U-NICA Feb 19, 2020 9:15:16 AM 12 min read

Automotive Anticounterfeit and Brand Value Protection

The vulnerabilities that need protection in the automotive sector, where anti-counterfeit comes in and how U-NICA is on the front line of the fight.

Battling counterfeits is tough for manufacturers around the world, but the automotive industry has one of the hardest struggles of all. It’s tough enough for fashion brands to keep counterfeiters away from handbag designs which require 11 basic components. The average car has 1,800 component parts


Yes, I have 1800 examples of how vulnerable automobiles are, and that’s before I get to brand value protection! Don’t worry — today I’m focusing mostly on the latter.


Automotive brands require 3X protection

A vehicle provides (or should provide) consumers with three things: utility, safety and, in many cases, status. Most consumer products you could name will check at most only two of those boxes. Automotive brands must work that bit harder to protect their brand value, especially on that third aspect.


Vehicles must provide the utility of reliable transportation coupled with safety if brands hope to gain and maintain status. It doesn’t matter which type of status a vehicle imparts — a Rolls Royce projects wealth and sophistication, a Ford Raptor screams rugged, unstoppable power — that status is hard-earned and a hugely important element of the brand.

The Rolls Royce brand is so strong that it invests next to nothing in advertising — brand recognition brings customers to them. Still, even the value of elite brands can be badly hurt because counterfeiters can compromise utility and safety in as many ways as there are vehicle components.


The risk to utility and safety

It’s hard to imagine a more dangerous auto part than a counterfeit braking mechanism, but they’re sadly among the most common fakes produced. Several car manufacturers conducted research on fake brakes versus the real thing, and the findings were sobering.


The counterfeit parts added 25 meters to stopping distance even in dry conditions. Vehicles decimated safety cones placed to represent pedestrians. This study only underlines the fact that even the biggest and most trusted brands are not safe from automotive counterfeiters and their $20 billion market.


Packaging and presentation on these fake components are often so convincing that trained mechanics are fooled into ordering them online and proceeding to fit them to vehicles — where even haptic experience fails to reveal the unsafe fakes. Such online vulnerabilities in a manufacturer’s security strategy allow counterfeits to enter their supply chain, making the digital domain as vital a battlefront as the physical. 


It goes much further than packaging. Consider the infamous Chinese car copier Zotye. Four years ago, they were a far-away problem looked on with international concern. Today, they’re cutting deals to enter the American market, and it’s welcoming them with open arms. Yes, they don’t claim to be a Porsche but if this isn’t counterfeiting in heart and soul, I don’t know what is!


The lesson is clear: Automotive brands must fight harder than ever to protect their value and integrity in the face of counterfeiters, unscrupulous competition and large sections of the consumer base who are all too happy to fund the copy market.

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What automotive companies need in an anti counterfeit partner

A first-class anti-counterfeit partner will consult with you to establish a brand value protection strategy that encompasses the automotive production cycle holistically. This includes providing a product authentication solution that will leave partners, suppliers, enforcement agencies and customers in no doubt as to its origin.


This authentication should be multi-tiered, combining both hidden and visual elements, and be as complex as the client requires. It must also be simple to apply and easy to understand. Perhaps most importantly, brand value protection solutions must be dynamic, fluid and able to quickly adjust to product needs as new threats emerge on the counterfeit scene.


Counterfeit packaging that fools even trained eyes can be addressed by aligning designs across the entire brand and adding security labels. Visual consistency makes it easier to spot flaws, which helps multiple stakeholders recognize and trust the products they buy — and that means counterfeiters must work harder to copy them. 


The issue of online vulnerability can be tackled via the cloud, where all product associated data like item identification, verification results and location information can be safely stored and accessed. The cloud further provides an ever-growing, always online repository of anti counterfeiting updates and community knowledge.


This empowers automotive brands with next-level awareness and turns cyberspace from a blind threat into an exposed risk landscape. It sounds like a great deal on paper, but in practice, this standard of brand value protection can be achieved with ease through U-NICA security solutions.

3 solutions for automotive brands’ triple needs 

Here are links introducing how U-NICA can protect your brand from top to bottom:

  • scryptoTRACE® The foundation for brand protection architecture. Fully scalable with a smartphone app for product verification, authentication and user engagement. A flow of real-time anti counterfeiting information that integrates smoothly with your existing systems.


  • intraGRAM® Holographic elements embedded directly into product design with no waste or clean up, enabling cost-effective lifetime authenticity checks.


  • spectroTAG® Invisible trademark protection for industrial products covering brands from the covert to the forensic. This and our other security measures can all be combined to add multiple layers of brand value protection.


I’m available if you’d like to discuss things further. If you’re ready to join the U-NICA Protection Circle, just click the link below to reach us.

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U-NICA is a team with a single purpose: To support you in the fight to protect your brand’s integrity and value. Our staff operates globally and partners with universities and agencies to deliver the future of brand protection. Contact us for more information on our constantly evolving open solution suite.