In Sweden, the Natural Stone Association is fletching its teeth at fakes from the ceramics industry

Kai Marklin (right), in the photo together with winners of the Swedish Natural Stone Association's design award 2022.

Tile companies there have marketed their products under local natural stone names / Also “Jura” is used as fake

Sweden’s Natural Stone Association (Sveriges Stenindustriförbund) is fletching its teeth at counterfeiters from the ceramics industry.

There is a particularly perfidious way of misusing the name of local natural stone there, initiated by the company Bricmate: in September 2020, it launched a product on the market called “granite ceramics,“ for which it had the name Norrvange protected.

Norrvange, however, is a place in Sweden where a family business has been extracting the famous limestone with the same name from the mountain for generations.

This kind of consumer deception has never been seen anywhere else in the world. Just imagine: A manufacturer of ceramics from Italy would have the name “Carrara tiles“ protected for its products.

It is curious that the authorities in Sweden agreed to Bricmate’s request in the first place.

Things are now gathering momentum in Sweden in two respects.

Firstly, there are other ceramic manufacturers who are following the same path as Bricmate, for example the company Stenbolaget. It has named its ceramics after a whole series of place names, such as Borghamn, Alböke, Kolmården and Offerdal. All of them stand for local natural stone in Swedish and are very well known.

The limestone quarried in Kolmården is even included in the list of Geoheritage Stones. These are natural stones from all over the world that have found and continue to find significant use in their home country and beyond.

“Jura“ is another name that Stenbolaget has given to its ceramic tiles.

Screenshot of the “Jura“ webpage of Stenbolaget ceramics company.

As with Bricmate, the Swedish Natural Stone Association has now also made representations to the culprit, Stenbolaget. Its founder and CEO, Johan Gustafsson, used windy arguments: Stenbolaget wanted to prevent “other ceramic suppliers from selling their inferior products under this name. We are not the first and will surely not be the last to use granite ceramics with brand protection. That is why protection seems necessary.“

In addition, the company also has genuine natural stone in its product range, says the company boss: it is enriching for the customer to find the various products with their names right next to each other.

Kai Marklin, head of the Natural Stone Association, vehemently disagrees: one and the same name for two completely different products is a deliberate misleading of the customer.

He reports cases where ceramics with Swedish names have already been brought onto the market in Sweden, although they actually came from southern Europe.

Things are also gaining momentum: such name fraud will soon end in the European Union. This is because the Geographical Indications Protection (GI) are in force since November 2023 (transition period expected to last until December 2025), and such misuse of geographical names will be banned.

However, natural stone companies or associations must go through the protection procedure. We had reported on this.

Examples from France show that it is feasible for the natural stone side.

They also show that such protection has a rapid effect on the other side: in the case of the French limestone Pierre de Bourgogne, the association had persuaded the name falsifiers to give in simply by warning them of legal action.

Sveriges Stenindustriförbund (Swedish)

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(06.12.2023, USA: 12.06.2023)