Alibaba Tests Dotless Visual Codes to Fight Counterfeit Goods

Alibaba is facing a growing problem with counterfeit goods that has led to some top brands taking legal action. The Chinese e-commerce giant is debuting a solution in the form of unique tags similar to QR codes. The company is working with Israeli startup Visualead to introduce dotless visual codes, which can be used to scan products to prove their authenticity and then automatically destroyed so they cannot be used more than once. Customers will use Alibaba’s Taobao mobile app to scan the codes when they receive their orders.

In addition to confirming that the product is authentic, the process provides an additional opportunity to introduce brand promotion and information regarding points, rewards, loyalty programs, etc. Alibaba is launching the new platform with brand partners including L’Oreal and Ferrero.

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“The codes resemble traditional QR codes with patterns of dots in all four corners,” reports Wired. “Unlike QR codes, Alibaba’s version can include images in the middle of the code, which can help with more visual branding efforts, says Nevo Alva, cofounder and CEO of Visualead.”

“The dotless codes require the use of a secure scanner, which comes integrated with Visualead’s software development kit,” notes the article. “In other words, as Alva explains it, counterfeiters won’t be able to create apps that falsely confirm their goods as real. The system makes use of computer vision techniques to recognize each code that Alva says could ultimately be used not just on product packaging, but for social networks, website authentication, mobile payments, coupons, and ticketing.”