Holograms and standards for security printers


International Hologram Manufacturers Association (IHMA) general secretary Dr Mark Deakes advises security printers to work towards ISO14298 compliance as the updated HIR (Hologram Image Register) goes live to meet growing global demand for improved security.

ISO 14298 – Management of Security Printing (and Security Foil) Processes specifies requirements for the administration of security printing processes with specific goals to improve industry security around high security print production and advance the fight against fraud and forgery.  As well as satisfying clients’ increasing security needs, it establishes a framework by fostering uniform practices around the world.

It’s also the standard through which security printers who achieve certification can come to be seen by end-users and customers as reputable and trusted operators - an essential distinction for those looking to make sure that their products and services are seen as among the most secure and robust on the market.

To understand better ISO 14298, Dr Deakes added ‘As a comparison, ISO 9000 provides guidance and direction to establish effective business processes.  ISO 14298 is similar but is focused entirely on the spectrum of security processes’. So clearly achieving ISO 14298 makes an important statement about the values a company shares and its commitments to quality and standards of excellence and is complementary to ISO 9000.

One key aspect of ISO 14298 is the requirement to perform a ‘design check’ on all new hologram designs to confirm the proposed design is not a duplicate of an existing image.   After the proposed hologram is confirmed as unique, the image is also registered in the HIR to provide a future reference for other security printers.   

The IHMA’s HIR is the only global registry for holograms where manufacturers and producers are able to perform a design check and register their holograms, enabling them to check that production designs do not inadvertently copy existing ones and infringe copyright.

The global registration of custom holograms has been supported by the IHMA members for over 20 years and it is a growing point of global interest including the Chinese hologram companies, especially when exporting products.

To help manufacturers move towards ISO 14298 (which evolved from the former CWA 14641), the IHMA has updated the HIR to provide faster online registration and copyright checking of hologram designs. This online resource is a centrally held database operated under the strictest confidence and security.

Now, in a bid to improve efficiency, HIR registration is a fully online process where artwork can be submitted electronically providing quicker design checks. The registration process is also faster as no hard copy forms are required while internet access via a secure portal provides improved ease-of-use. The enhanced system is a beneficial step forward, representing a major update and redesign of the HIR requirements to encourage more registrations, which further enhances the security benefits of holograms to combat counterfeiting.

After all, since pre-origination checks on a hologram register and the registration of holograms onto a register are required by ISO 14298, Intergraf and NASPO, the two leading global bodies for accreditation of the standard, are confirming compliance as part of the certification and compliance with the standard.

The IHMA has also recently updated and strengthened its addendum for ISO 14298 such that where an organisation wishes to exclude registering their hologram then the organisation has to document the request by on officer/director on the organisations letterhead. The security printer will then be required to retain the organisations documented request for 10 years, or the life of the custom image, whichever is longer.

While wider registration is a key strategic aim for the global hologram industry, it’s in China where the greatest changes are likely to be felt.   It’s widely acknowledged by US Customs and Border Control and other international agencies that China heads the list of countries exporting counterfeit goods – and has done so for some time.

Indeed, a UN report published in 2013 said that three-quarters of all the fake goods seized worldwide between 2008 and 2010 emanated from China.  According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODCO), these counterfeit goods make up almost 2% of global trade while organised crime groups, who deal in fake goods and drugs among other items, are pocketing $90 billion annually across the Far East region.

Chinese anti-counterfeiting agencies have been aggressively tackling the problem, adopting holograms as part of effective security strategies to get a grip on the internal counterfeiting problem. But it’s the unprecedented level of counterfeit goods flowing out of the country where China faces one of its biggest logistical challenges.

Government agencies in China have indicated their desire for closer cooperation and integration on international brand piracy and protection, and are looking at the IHMA HIR as an effective tool to help control and monitor hologram production for products marketed within China but with export markets in mind. This in turn, has seen the IHMA starting to work with the relevant Chinese authorities to address the problems and protect those retail brands destined for export markets against the threat of counterfeit criminals and organised crime.

Indeed, Mr Yin, secretary general of the China Trade Association for Anti-Counterfeiting (CTAAC), commented at the recent Holography Conference in Shanghai: ‘We cannot defeat counterfeiting on our own, so collaboration with the IHMA, and what they offer in terms of helping China to tackle counterfeiting has to be welcomed. International communication, open-mindedness and exchange is beneficial, helping us to learn and solve this problem together.’

It’s clear that holograms remain to the fore for security printers not only a highly effective overt authentication device but also as multi-function devices which deliver real added value in the competitive international print arena. In conjunction with the IHMA’s HIR, authentication holograms will continue to reinforce their role as an effective security feature as more global printers adopt and embrace the practices outlined in ISO 14298.

The International Hologram Manufacturers Association (IHMA) - www.ihma.org - is made up of 100 of the world's leading hologram companies. Members are the leading producers and converters of holograms for banknote security, anti-counterfeiting, brand protection, packaging, graphics and other commercial applications around the world. IHMA member companies actively cooperate to maintain the highest professional, security and quality standards.


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