IP Australia and NRL trial blockchain to combat counterfeits

Verified trademarks will be marked with a digital "trust badge".
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor
NRL Imagery/Paul Barkley

IP Australia has teamed up with the National Rugby League (NRL) to trial a new digital app designed to eliminate counterfeiting.

Under the trial, two of the NRL's official online merchandise stores, NRL Shop and Savvy Supporter, will be marked with the "trust badge" as visual proof that the website has been verified by IP Australia as authentic. The badge also provides a link to a registered trademark.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said the technology could be a tool to fight against counterfeiting and piracy.

"Australian products are in demand around the world thanks to our reputation for quality and the Morrison Government will do everything we can to help our businesses protect themselves," she said.

"This app could be used across a range of Australian made products and is a great example of how new technologies can be applied in very practical ways to grow the economy and create local jobs."

The trust badge is part of IP Australia's Smart Trade Mark platform, which is being trialled to allow trademark owners to authenticate their products or services, the places they're sold, and their supply chains.

Using blockchain technology, the platform enables trademark owners to digitally link to the government register to prove they are the authentic owner of the trademark, a product's origin, and control the use of their marks.

See also: How IoT and blockchain could eliminate counterfeit goods across the supply chain (TechRepublic) 

"NRL members and fans are the lifeblood of our sport who want to buy the genuine article when supporting their club – the Trust Badge helps NRL fans identify authentic and licensed products online," NRL general manager consumer business Shaun McMartin said.

"Counterfeiting damages legitimate wholesalers and retailers who invest in genuine products and robs the NRL Clubs of much needed revenue."

IP Australia said in addition to working with the NRL, it is also partnering with other industry and government agencies to trial the Smart Trade Mark.

The government agency is carrying out similar trials with the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation. They are working together to trial a system of traceability and verification for bush food supply chains.

IP Australia first signalled its intention of using blockchain to verify authentication in 2018. At the time, it said it was looking at using the technology to prove food provenance and it was going to start with baby formula. 

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