Thursday, October 23, 2008

Watch Your Global Intellectual Property

Source: Cool News of the Day® and
Switzerland exports 26 million watches a year, but counterfeiters ship 40 million, reports Christina Binkley in the Wall Street Journal (10/16/08). Even more troubling, "counterfeiters have been improving their technology faster than watchmakers," too. It used to be the fakes were easy to spot, but not always anymore. "The counterfeiters have learned all the things that people didn't know 20 years ago," says David Hendry, an expert. They'll make sure the watches weigh enough by using "sapphire crystal" and incorporating "other elements that can confuse even experts -- and they may charge many hundreds of dollars."

To combat this, "one Swiss watchmaker, Vacheron Constantin (pictured), has created a wristwatch that it says is impossible to counterfeit." Called the Qai de I'lle, the watch "can be customized in up to 400 combinations and will sell for between $29,000 and $60,000, depending on which features are chosen." Making the watch counterfeit-proof (or at least counterfeit-resistant) involves "highly-controlled money-printing materials like the polymers and inks." The polymer Vacheron uses actually "is monitored by the maker of Swiss passports."

Some of the words on the watch's dials are engraved, while others are printed using special inks. "Tiny texts on the dials of some models -- illegible without the aid of a magnifying glass -- reproduce parts of letters sent between 19th-century family members of the watchmaker, Jacques-Barthelemy Vacheron and Franchois Constantin." Certain images, such as a tiny sun, "can be seen only under a UV lamp," and even then only barely. Will this be enough to stop counterfeiters? Even the watch's designer, Roger Pfund, "an acclaimed painter and designer of the Swiss passport" doesn't think so. "They already have fakes of this watch," he says. "Of course the movement is wrong -- a lot of things are wrong."
You might also want to read this: Protect Yourself.

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