This blog was formed primarily to expose what this author believes to be a false story that two of the worlds largest bearing manufacturers conspired to release as a news story in order to use it in marketing campaigns. Since that first project ended with neither company willing to release any information that could authenticate their story, we moved on to looking at all bearing counterfeiting and how it is reported.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Schweinfurt Hoax-The Real Story

Since the joint news conference at Schaeffler’s FAG facility in Schweinfurt, Germany and the resulting brochure Product Piracy-Made in Germany, much has come to light. The story, which told of 40 tons of counterfeit bearings being found in the warehouse of one rolling bearing dealer located somewhere in Franconia, spread throughout industry publications like wildfire. Every story carried with it the warning that the only way to be certain that one does not get counterfeit bearings is to buy only from “authorized” sources.

It is now apparent that the story is not as its proponents have portrayed it. The bearings involved in this story were not counterfeit at all. The dealer in this story was never charged criminally and never even sued civilly. In fact, the dealer was paid for the 40 tons of his bearings, which amounted to less than 20% of his inventory in return for his silence.

Although the original story failed to name the dealer, several sources have told this writer that the company, which was raided, was Batucom in Erlangen. Schaeffler attorney Ingrid Bichelmeir-Boehn has refused to either confirm or deny this.

In 2003 Batucom bought the entire Inventory of Hans Lentz Kugellager in Cologne. Hans Lentz was a surplus and gray market dealer with a good reputation and the expertise to modify bearings to meet the demands of his customers. Evidence of this is the fact that he remained in business for 50 years. At 73 years of age he decided it was time to retire. He sold his inventory to Batucom. Batucom was able to operate profitably and had many satisfied customers until one morning approximately 50 police officers showed up at its business. Finding no evidence of counterfeit bearings, Schaeffler, because the Press was also present, came up with a way to continue their charade. They bought the silence of the owner of Batucom, together with an agreement that he would go out of business. (400,000 euros will buy a lot of silence). Batucom had no counterfeit bearings at all. Batucom was repackaging bearings. At most, and this has never been proven in court, there may have been some counterfeit boxes together with used genuine boxes and other packaging materials.

SKF has claimed in, news releases in US industrial publications and in its own magazines, that this was a "joint investigation". Their exact role in this "news story" is difficult to determine, but at some point SKF decided it would be advisable to join Schaeffler in this deception and the idea of calling a news conference was born. With media present, employees of Schaeffler proceeded to destroy 40 tons of bearings that had been manufactured by themselves and SKF and purchased from the very person they were accusing of being a counterfeiter.

When questioned, the purveyors of this story have been extremely tight-lipped, unwilling to release any information that would allow their story to be verified.

The above story is my understanding of what actually occurred from the witnesses that I have interviewed. I hope to hear from anyone who could shed more light on this.

Original story here.

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