Synthetic DNA in the fight against product piracy
Marcus Weichert, Managing Director of the Adlershof company SecuTech Europe GmbH, is all too aware of the threat posed by product piracy to authorities and enterprises. His company has developed a biomolecular marker that provides product protection on the basis of synthesised DNA codes.
A leader in DNA security marking and detection technologies, Weichert’s company owns over 120 patents in over twenty patent families. One of its flagships is the biomolecular marker “ihide”, which provides product protection based on synthesised DNA codes. This utilises the two DNA strands obeying the lock and key principle. The one strand can be mixed with any liquid such as printing inks or paints, whereas the other can be registered with simple readers for fast verification on site. The marker is invisible to the naked eye, hence its designation as a “covert” attribute.
The DNA codes can be combined with other identification systems like barcodes, RFID, or magnetic strips. Whereas the barcode or serial number serves to identify every single product, the DNA marker is used to determine whether the printed barcode is genuine, i.e. whether it was actually applied at the original production facilities. “This product protection alone cannot eliminate violations to patents,” added Weichert, checking any overly great expectations concerning this DNA marking method. “ Patent laws are prohibition rights, and the detection and prosecution of criminal violation is complex and often not at all desired by the owners of the rights,” he explained, adding that also the speed of his developed biomolecular marker will not be of any help.
He continued that some customers find it more important to anchor the authenticity of their products in visible and forgery proof form. The product can even be designed and advertised with this proof of authenticity. SecuTech therefore offers these solutions incorporating a nanooptical seal. The conspicuous features are their brilliant colour effects depending on the angle they are viewed from. Familiar examples include e.g. colour shifting inks. Their characteristics can be registered with a spectrometer, fulfilling high security requirements with attractive visual effects to boot. Marcus Weichert explained that also the security technology is constantly evolving, and SecuTech is constantly developing innovative methods to keep in step – and these, of course, are top secret.
by Klaus Oberzig