Alibaba & Kodak Back eApeiron, A Startup Fighting Counterfeit Goods With Invisible Ink


eApeiron is a new startup backed by Kodak that aims to use a tagging system to identify counterfeit products, reports Deal Street Asia. Kodak and Alibaba Group are working with the startup to combat counterfeiting with a technology that places an invisible, digitally traceable marker on products to ensure that they are authentic.

eApeiron, launched in June and is targeting common ecommerce problem, pirated products that mostly occurs in China and Hong Kong. According to a recent report by the Organization For Economic Cooperation and Development, fake products accounted for almost half a trillion in 2013.

“Everyone knows this is a problem,” said Kodak Chief Executive Officer Jeff Clarke, who cited the complex supply chains at many companies. “If you’re in charge of brand protection or you’re a security officer of a major brand, this means you’ve got a new tool.”

The company is based in Miami and will locate its research, engineering and manufacturing operations within Kodak’s business park in Rochester, New York.

Alibaba is concentrating on cleaning up its image following the string of counterfeit controversy.

The company wants to be seen as a viable partner that can help identify sources of fake goods and play a part in tackling the problem not enabling it by owning a marketplace where cheap knock-offs flourish. Alibaba’s president, Michael Evans will sit on eAperiron’s board.

eApeiron’s tagging system for identifying and tracking products through its supply chain is likely what attracted Alibaba, given the complexity of its supply chain and the need for a unique product signature due to the number of carriers.

The startup currently has 50 employees with plans for a rapid expansion. CEO Charles Fernandez declined to provide a valuation for the company, but he did comment that the use of Alibaba’s multiple platforms will present them with vast opportunities, with predictions of 3x revenue in the next two years.

Alibaba’s on-going battle against counterfeit items and Kodak’s effort to join the startup scene following its bankruptcy in 2012 will surely make interesting partnership.

A version of this appeared in Deal Street Asia on July 18. Read the full version here.