What the heck is that long string of characters on my knife???

Angey Holt

Posted on June 13 2018

I am guessing at some point you have all noticed that long string of characters that is laser engraved on your knife. If not, I am sure you are looking for it right now! The high level answer is that the long string of characters is a serial number that contains specific information about each knife. The next logical question then is why the heck is it there ...

When we started making knives in 2017, we were also becoming more aware of the problems others in the industry were facing. One of those issues was cloning. We wanted to help find a solution that would benefit both the maker and the user. From a maker's standpoint, the possibility of having our name associated with an inferior cloned knife is a big risk against our reputation. There are some people who can tell the difference between authentic and cloned, but there are others who cannot. From the user's standpoint, there is a lot of activity on the second hand market which introduces the risk of paying a high pay for an inferior cloned knife. Especially if the maker recognizes the knife as a clone and therefore will not perform warranty work on it. Maybe in the scheme of things, this is not an overwhelming issue that will cripple the industry. It is however an issue that we believe can be better controlled with minimal work and cost.

Our initial attempt to deal with this issue is the serial number. We encode the knife number, type, born date, and entropy into a binary string that is then encrypted. We then use a cipher block chaining symmetric algorithm that is somewhat similar to RC5. The user could send us a code and we could send them back the encoded data to be verified against the maker's card. The code is similar to a MicroQR code that can be found on a lot of high end products. The only option a a cloner has with either the code or MicroQR, is to replicate the same code over and over again. A cloner would not be able to create their own valid code though, which is a step in the right direction. At least we think so! It is not a perfect solution yet, which is why we have phase two improvements in the works. Stay tuned for the details of phase 2.

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