The knockoff business for luxury goods is booming, with counterfeiters selling products on the internet, on the streets, and even sometimes in physical stores. According to Racked, about 2.5 percent of global imports to the United States are counterfeited or pirated merchandise. This equates to around half a trillion dollars’ worth of goods, and profits are essentially just encouraging more crime.
Maysa Razavi, an attorney with the International Trademark Association, explained that shoppers are often unaware that “the same people who are counterfeiting are involved in human trafficking and terrorism.”
The low price of that Prada bag you’ve been eyeing might actually be too good to be true.
As the problem persists, retailers are struggling to get ahead of counterfeiters. They have recently started learning ways technology can help.
Although expensive, artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly prevalent in retail. The demand for AI is growing, and companies are relying less and less on human expertise.
Two retailers in particular—Goat and Entrupy— are dedicated to stopping the resale of counterfeit goods, with the help of AI. Both companies have developed anti-counterfeit algorithms based on huge databases of information on top luxury brands. The databases provide a way to analyze and compare even the smallest details, and ensure that goods are authentic.
Goat, an online platform that resells luxury sneakers, is committed to being the largest and most accurate sneaker database on the market. Goat supplies an endless selection of footwear, from the rarest exclusive to everyday sneakers, and each pair of shoes goes through a detailed verification process. Goat resellers first upload photos of their shoes for human experts to analyze. Then, the shoes are shipped to Goat for AI authentication.
Entrupy, a company that specializes in on-demand authentication for luxury handbags, has developed complex detection algorithms that allow the Entrupy team to analyze various materials, ranging from canvas and leather to metal and wood.
Entrupy relies on a “convolutional neural network,” a database of microscopic images of luxury handbags. The company’s algorithm has analyzed the small details that make up the DNA of genuine components. Although counterfeit goods may appear to be exact replicas of authentic versions, some details are just too difficult for counterfeiters to reproduce.
With Entrupy’s microscopic device and mobile iOs app, handbags can be easily authenticated anywhere, anytime. The verification process on the Entrupy app first involves taking photos of the handbag and entering some basic information about it. Then, the handbag is photographed at around 250 times magnification, with the help of an attachment. After that, the photos are sent for comparison. Finally, the handbag either passes or fails the test.
With the counterfeit goods market continuing to thrive, there is obviously still work to be done. The good news is that the search for a universally-trusted solution has already begun.
Featured Image via Flickr/Oliver Bln