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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


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Counterfeit Drug Task Force Report October 2003 - APPENDIX A: TABLE OF ANTI-COUNTERFEITING MEASURES





Overt Security Features      


overt, tactile Cotton & linen fibers; no UV fluorescence Recognizable tactile properties (feel)



Laminate (paper-plastic blend)

overt, tactile Synthetic & natural fibers Retains some paper tactile properties


overt Polymeric material Increased durability & circulation life.


overt Overall pattern not registered to a specific note location Consumer authenticator


overt Portrait similar to the intaglio portrait, at the same location on each note Consumer authenticator
Planchettes overt, covert Small tissue or polymer discs incorporated in the substrate, can carry additional covert features, e.g., fluorescence, microprint. Consumer verification


overt, covert Thread indiscernible in reflected light, visible with transmitted light Consumer authenticator, machine readable, copier reproduction difficult.


overt Text/images on thread Consumer authenticator


covert Fluorescent material on thread Machine readable


covert Magnetic material on thread Machine readable


overt, covert Thread discernible when exposed on substrate surface Consumer authenticator, degrades copier/scanner reproduction, machine readable


overt Text/images on thread Consumer authenticator


covert Carries fluorescent material Machine readable
Optical Pigments & Dyes      

Up Converters

overt, covert Material absorbs long wavelength radiation and re-emits at shorter wavelength, e.g., absorbs infrared radiation and re-emits as visible light or shorter wavelength infrared light Authenticator, Consumer Authenticator, Machine Readable

Down Converters

overt, covert Material absorbs short wavelength radiation and re-emits at longer wavelength, e.g., absorbs ultraviolet radiation and re-emits as visible or infrared light Consumer authenticator, machine readable



Color Gamut

overt Printing with colors which cannot be reproduced by the four color process of current copiers and printers Digital reprographic equipment not able to reproduce certain colors.

Color Shifting

overt Color changes with viewing angle Consumer authenticator, color shift hard to scan or simulate


overt Color change with temperature Consumer authenticator


overt Color shift with light Consumer authenticator

Forensic Tag

covert Marker for forensic identification that provides a unique product source fingerprint, e.g., unique submicron security features on carrier particles or deuterated tracer materials Authenticity test and tracking




covert, tactile Magnetic properties Machine readable


covert, tactile Infrared active Machine readable
Other, Printed      

Digital Watermark

overt, covert A printed feature with embedded encrypted digital information that can only be read by software having the correct decryption key Authenticator, machine readable

Latent image

overt Variation in surface relief of an intaglio print resulting in an observable image at very low angles Consumer verification; will not reproduce on copiers

Moire Inducing Patterns

overt Printed patterns which cause frequency interference in low to medium resolution digital scans Consumer authenticator, degrades imaging on copiers and low to medium resolution scanners/printers

Lenticular/Scrambled Indicia

overt Printed, embedded image viewable with a special lens Consumer authenticator, machine readable
Other, Non-printed      


overt Laser perforations in a grid pattern, acts as an optically variable device, visible when viewed in transmitted light at 90° angle Consumer authenticator, cannot be scanned, difficult to reproduce


overt 3D-like images Consumer authenticator, machine readable

Optically Variable Devices

overt Devices that change optical character via viewing angle or stimulation Consumer authenticator, machine readable

Radio Frequency Identification Devices

covert Electronic device that transmits, via radio frequency over a limited distance, encrypted info when interrogated, info resides in the computer chip of the RFID tag Machine readable, tracking


covert No battery, power drawn from reader Machine readable, short distance tracking


covert Battery powers chip, transmitting power drawn from reader Machine readable


covert Self-contained battery for chip and RF transmissions Machine readable
Other, Taggants      

Marker tags

overt, covert Components which can be added to fibers, planchettes, inks, thread; and provide specific properties such as fluorescence Authenticator possible, machine readable

Organic vapor

overt Unique odor signature, e.g., perfume Consumer authenticator, machine readable

Inorganic tag

covert Inorganic chemical markers that can be detected by instruments, e.g., magnetometers, x-ray units, IR/UV/visible spectrophotometers Machine readable