The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently awarded Sikorsky Aircraft Corp a patent (No. US10286719B2) for new anti-counterfeiting technology. The newly patented technology both prevents some counterfeiting and allows identification of counterfeit parts. Sikorsky originally filed for the patent on November 4, 2015.
The newly patented invention adds a “radiation impacting feature on or within the part” during the manufacturing process. The feature is not specific to any one material and can be made of a fluorescent, phosphorescent, emissive, or other material that can serve as a unique signature.
Because of the singularity of radiation signatures, the impacting feature can identify if a part is legitimate. Counterfeiters will be unable to exactly mimic the radiation signature.
Existing anti-counterfeiting technologies use other forms of radiation, 3D security holograms, and RFID to verify products in a similar manner. Sikorsky’s parent corporation Lockheed Martin already holds patents in several of these areas. The new patent, however, is one of the first that is intended to prevent duplication of the parts in the first place.
Many counterfeiters use scanning technology involving some form of radiation to gather an accurate image of a part they want to counterfeit. The feature described in the new patent can be configured to distort or disrupt this scanning radiation. The resulting image is therefore too fuzzy to accurately duplicate the part.
Sikorsky was not able to comment on the deployment of the patented technology due to “market exclusivity implications.” The company also did not elaborate on how the technology might impact legitimate parts duplication under the FAA Parts Manufacturer Approval regulations and processes (FAA regulations Part 21).
The FAA estimates that 2 percent of all aircraft parts are counterfeit and that counterfeit parts regularly cause accidents.
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