Executive Briefings

Vintner Uses RFID Technology to Prevent Counterfeiting of Its Costly Wines

Fine wines are vulnerable to counterfeiting or fraud, in large part due to their high value. A single bottle of French Bordeaux, from Chateau Le Pin, averages $3,000 and can be priced at up to $10,000 or more, making the trafficking of forgeries lucrative for counterfeiters. Photocopied labels, for example, can be attached to bottles of counterfeit wine, which can then end up being sold to consumers"”often at auctions, or at any weak link along the supply chain.

Le Pin sells its wine in Europe, as well as in Asia, which is one of the company's focus markets. To combat fraud and counterfeiting"”which the vintner says is not only expensive but difficult to prosecute"”the firm sought a reliable anti-counterfeiting technology that would also be well-received by consumers. In 2012, it looked into technologies that included QR codes, Data Matrix, bubble codes (polymer film encoded with raised dots, each in a unique location on the label) and holograms, but found that all of these solutions could be copied using digital, laser or industrial printers.

Anti-counterfeiting identification technology company Selinko has developed a Near Field Communication (NFC) solution consisting of a high-frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz NFC-compliant RFID tag built into a wine bottle's label, an application for an NFC-enabled phone to capture that label's ID number, and a server to manage the collected data. This helps Le Pin's owners ensure that every bottle's label is authentic, and confirm that a particular product is in a consumer's hands. For Le Pin, the advantage that the NFC solution offered was its inability to be copied, says Gwennaëlle Festraets, a partner at Selinko, since each chip contains an encrypted, tamper-proof digital certificate. "The entire communication is encrypted and is impossible to reproduce, even by ourselves," she says.

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Le Pin sells its wine in Europe, as well as in Asia, which is one of the company's focus markets. To combat fraud and counterfeiting"”which the vintner says is not only expensive but difficult to prosecute"”the firm sought a reliable anti-counterfeiting technology that would also be well-received by consumers. In 2012, it looked into technologies that included QR codes, Data Matrix, bubble codes (polymer film encoded with raised dots, each in a unique location on the label) and holograms, but found that all of these solutions could be copied using digital, laser or industrial printers.

Anti-counterfeiting identification technology company Selinko has developed a Near Field Communication (NFC) solution consisting of a high-frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz NFC-compliant RFID tag built into a wine bottle's label, an application for an NFC-enabled phone to capture that label's ID number, and a server to manage the collected data. This helps Le Pin's owners ensure that every bottle's label is authentic, and confirm that a particular product is in a consumer's hands. For Le Pin, the advantage that the NFC solution offered was its inability to be copied, says Gwennaëlle Festraets, a partner at Selinko, since each chip contains an encrypted, tamper-proof digital certificate. "The entire communication is encrypted and is impossible to reproduce, even by ourselves," she says.

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