Update: Counterfeit ball bearing dealer jailed in Sweden

Ball-bearings in situA Swedish court has sentenced one person to a one-year jail term and a five-year ban from trade for dealing in fake SKF ball bearings.

The man - 50-year-old Christer Skult - was also found guilty of violating law in relation to trademarks held by Swedish industrial products group SKF and ordered to pay SEK 600,000 (around $95,000) damages to the company.

The court found that he intentionally purchased counterfeit SKF products which were subsequently sold on - with a high profit margin - to unknowing customers. A request by the prosecutor in the case to levy a fine on Skult's company - called Transmissions Teamet i Stockholm AB - was denied by the court.

Counterfeiting of ball bearings has emerged as a major problem in recent years. As the fakes generally wear out more quickly than genuine products they can fail unexpectedly, leading to equipment downtime and expensive repairs in industrial equipment.

Moreover, ball bearings are used in automotive components, for example, so failures place the public at risk of life-threatening situations.

The SKF case was brought in the wake of a police raid in March 2010 of stores in Stockholm and Avesta in central Sweden which uncovered around 6,500 counterfeit SKF products, including a wide range of bearing types.

The prosecutor - Henrik Rasmusson - told that Skult has appealed the verdict and maintains that the bearings uncovered in the raid are not fake. Rasmusson is also lodging an appeal on the grounds that the sentencing is too light - he is seeking a longer jail term - and because he believes Skult's company should also be fined.

"Globally SKF is taking between 200-350 legal actions yearly against actors involved in manufacturing and selling of counterfeit bearings," a spokesperson for the company told

In 2012, SKF took 330 legal actions, either as civil action or supporting law enforcement in criminal actions, she said, adding that these took place in Austria, Germany, Finland, Holland, Italy, Czech republic, Slovak, Macedonia, Hungary, Israel, UAE, Chile, Indonesia, Mexico, USA, India, South Africa, Vietnam and China.

"Counterfeits are available in all markets, for all types of products and all sizes of bearing including large size bearings," she noted.

Timken Co counterfeits intercepted in China

Meanwhile, several thousand counterfeit bearings purporting to be made by The Timken Company have been seized from a location in Xingtai City, Hebei Province, China, and the owner fined CNY12,000 (around $2,000). Another facility making fake packaging for Timken bearings was also shut down.

[Ed. An earlier edition of this article erroneously indicated that SKF had been involved in a legal dispute with distributor Motion Industries, which is not the case. We apologise for the error.]

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