• The Smart Trademark allows customers to verify product authenticity
  • The National Rugby League (NRL) of Australia will pilot the Smart Trademark initiative
  • Counterfeiting is a global problem that is estimated to be worth $509 billion in 2016

Australia has unveiled Smart Trademark, a blockchain-based platform that allows trademark owners to connect their online store and supply chain to the government registry. In this way, users will be able to set themselves apart from counterfeits.

Companies can also be made aware of anyone copying their trademark. A “Trust Badge” can be added to the registered companies’ websites. Consumers can check the badge’s authenticity, giving them peace of mind that what they are buying are authentic items, Coindesk reported.

The National Rugby League (NRL) of Australia is selected to pilot the “Trust Badge” project on its official merchandise stores. In a statement, NRL’s general manager for consumer business, Shaun McMartin, said the Smart Trademark could be a gamechanger for the league in combating fake merchandise.

“Counterfeiting damages legitimate wholesalers and retailers who invest in genuine products and robs the NRL Clubs of much-needed revenue,” he added.

Karen Andrews, Australia's industry and science minister, said the Smart Trademark and blockchain technology as a whole could help protect businesses and the country's reputation. It could also help the economy by creating new jobs. “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,” she said.

Counterfeiting is a global problem, valued at an estimate of $509 billion in 2016 or 3.3% of global trade volume, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). While fake goods infringe on trademarks and copyrights, fake items like medical supplies and equipment, cosmetics and electronic goods carry safety risks. The proliferation of fake items could impact jobs. Andrews said 5.4 million jobs around the world could be lost by 2022 because of counterfeit items.

Blockchain is a way to track records and its immutability helps make it trustless and secure. That’s why many initiatives involving tracking the authenticity of items are being developed on this new technology. For example, blockchain startup Fantom is collaborating with the Ministry of Public Health in Afghanistan to help curb counterfeit medicine in the country. Using the smart contract platform Opera, the project aims to create an immutable audit trail so that medical items are not tampered with and fake medical supplies do not enter any stage of the distribution process.

A couple wave flags to mark Australia Day in Sydney
A couple wave flags to mark Australia Day in Sydney AFP / PETER PARKS