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Copycat Corian

Market leader in the surfaces industry, DuPont, has slammed the regional industry for using cheap imitation products in interior design projects. DuPont claims that its ‘Corian’ surfacing product is being ripped off by unscrupulous manufacturers selling cut-price imitations across the Middle East.

Market leader in the surfaces industry, DuPont, has slammed the regional industry for using cheap imitation products in interior design projects.

DuPont claims that its ‘Corian’ surfacing product is being ripped off by unscrupulous manufacturers selling cut-price imitations across the Middle East and according to manager Tony Azzam, there are at least 20 companies misusing the ‘Corian’ brand name throughout the region.

DuPont Surfaces — a subsidiary of the US $30 billion-turnover DuPont conglomerate 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 recently, someone mentioned ‘Ajman Corian’ to me,” 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. Man-made surfaces have a number of advantages over natural materials including stain resistance, impact resistance, colour consistency, seamless joints and thermal formability. “We are committed to maintaining our leadership in this arena especially with the increasing number of look-alikes on the market. Unfortunately projects in the Gulf are very much price driven; we haven’t yet seen a shift towards user quality products, but we are working on it,” says Azzam.

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