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DuPont ripped off by copycats

Construction materials giant is cracking down on firms across the region using its name on their surface products

One of the world’s largest construction product companies has slammed the regional industry for using cheap imitation products.

Market leader in the surfaces industry, DuPont, says its ‘Corian’ surfacing product is being ripped off by unscrupulous manufacturers selling cut-price imitations across the Middle East.

And there are at least 20 companies using its name throughout the region, says Tony Azzam, manager, DuPont Surfaces – a subsidiary of the US $30 billion-turnover DuPont conglomerate.

The company will soon celebrate the 40th anniversary of the invention of Corian - a 100%- acrylic man-made surface.

The material is used in interior applications such as kitchens, work surfaces and countertops.

But as developers in the Gulf come under increasing cost pressures, manufacturers are producing sub-standard materials under the ‘Corian’ name.

“There are a lot of imitations on the market,” said Azzam. “Manufacturers use ‘Corian’ as a generic name but it is a registered trademark by DuPont in all countries of the world. Only we can make Corian.”

The problem of imitations has become so prevalent that DuPont is threatening to take legal action against any company that misuses its brand name. And it has already launched proceedings against another firm using the name to sell its products in the UAE.

“We are very vigilant when it comes to this issue. We hear of manufacturers producing imitations all the time. There are three or four in the UAE, Saudi has around 20 and only yesterday someone mentioned ‘Ajman Corian’,” he added.

Azzam says that cost-cutting is becoming a major issue in the Middle East: “There is a huge problem with the use of low quality materials in the Gulf,” he said.

“We are always complaining about this. We have seen specifications by leading consultants in Dubai – well recognised names in the industry – that are buying materials known for being bad quality. I won’t say who; it would be unprofessional to name and shame.”

DuPont, which invests close to $1.2 billion a year in R&D, has a science station that employs 3,000 Ph.D students to work on new developments – including research into surface technologies.

This year the company has come to Big 5 to launch two new lines. ‘Montelli’, aimed at the commercial market where budgets are an issue, is a blend of acrylic and polyester; it is around 30% cheaper than Corian and Zodiac, which is a quartz surface with polyester binding.

The surfaces are available in a range of around 30 colours and come with a 10-year warranty. Man-made surfaces have a number of advantages over natural materials including stain resistance, impact resistance, colour consistency, seamless joints and thermal formability.

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