UNICRI, the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, in partnership with ARES Spa, has created the Permanent Observatory on Anti-counterfeiting Systems (POAS), and is to launch the first Global anti-counterfeiting data bank initiative to trace and track the origin of market’s products: the Worldwide Track and Trace Bank (WTTB).
The daily chronicles of international papers are filled with news concerning the seizure of fake goods. According to the European Commission, in 2008 some 178 million items were seized compared with the 79 million in 2007, indicating a 125% growth. Moreover, there has been a 13% increase in products registered as breaking intellectual property rights - over 49,000 cases compared to 43,000 in 2007. The consequences of such phenomena are priceless in terms of risks for the consumers and the companies’ revenue losses, therefore affecting the economy as a whole.
The POAS is an applied research and technical analytical instrument in search of innovative approaches that may support the international community’s efforts to significantly reduce counterfeiting and piracy, the reselling of stolen goods, as well as frauds in general. The POAS will allow the Institute to support Member States in their efforts against organized crime and counterfeiting with a unique instrument created specifically for this purpose.
The first task of POAS is to manage and control the proper setting up of a system that has the potential to allow the tracking and tracing of every product on the market. Once the set-up phase is completed, POAS will be in charge of testing its effectiveness and its limits. This technology has been selected because of its proven effectiveness within the Italian pharmaceutical system.
As an applied research programme, POAS will now test an improved version of this technology in different circumstances, also taking into account its possible efficacy at the global level. The proposed system, the Worldwide Track and Trace Bank (WTTB), has the potential to track and trace the origin of the every product in the world, allowing checks and validation of the product at every stage of the distribution chain, with a last check that can be performed by the final purchaser. This feature and the possibility of tracing back the product’s different steps along its distribution chain also have the potential to support the competent authorities in their investigations.
Wide accessibility passes through the identification of high-level service providers. To ensure that the wide accessibility to the system – a requisite of every technology tested by the POAS – is respected, the POAS will identify high-level service providers with the capacity to guarantee the system’s proper functioning and its broad representation. A call for service providers is currently open, inviting private companies to join the POAS. The international announcement published by UNICRI on July 31st for service providers to act as a global network-marketing provider of the Worldwide Track and Trace Bank will remain open until October 31st.
At the end of its first year, a report will be produced and circulated by UNICRI to present the results of the applied research phase.