Late last night the LEGO Group issued a press release detailing their win in a lawsuit against Chinese clone brand Lepin. For a number of years now the China-based company has persistently and blatantly released products using designs and images directly taken from official LEGO® sets. Often offering sets before the have been released by LEGO. A Chinese courts has ordered that this activity stops immediately. The activities of Lepin and similar companies goes far beyond just offering a similar product to LEGO, they use the same images found on LEGO products and merely change brand names often by a single letter. Read more in the press release below.
THE LEGO GROUP WINS MAJOR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAWSUIT AGAINST LEPIN IN CHINA
November 5, 2018: The LEGO Group today received a favourable decision from the Guangzhou Yuexiu District Court against four companies who infringed multiple copyrights of the LEGO Group and conducted acts of unfair competition by producing and distributing LEPIN building sets. It is another significant legal victory in China for the LEGO Group in its battle against imitators over the past two years.
According to the decisions issued by the court, the four defendants, Shantou Meizhi Model Co., Ltd., et al, are liable for copying the 3-dimensional artworks of 18 LEGO® sets, multiple LEGO Minifigures, as well as for carrying out unfair competition acts.
The court ordered, among other things, that the four defendants shall immediately cease producing, selling, exhibiting or in any way promoting the infringing products, and shall pay the LEGO Group approximately RMB 4.5 million as damages.
Niels B. Christiansen, Chief Executive Officer of the LEGO Group said:
“We welcome the court’s ruling. We believe these decisions are well-founded in the facts and the law, and clearly demonstrate the continued efforts of Chinese authorities to protect intellectual property. It also shows the authorities’ commitment to creating a fair business environment for all companies operating in China. The court’s decisions state that the LEPIN manufacturer and sellers must immediately cease copying the 18 LEGO sets that have been found protectable by the court. These rulings send a clear warning message to other companies who may be copying LEGO products. We will continue to take all necessary legal actions to protect our intellectual property rights.”
Christiansen added: “When children and shoppers choose a LEGO product, they expect the highest quality and the safest play experience. We cannot have them being misled in any way. While we welcome fair competition, if someone misuses our intellectual property and seeks to take advantage of consumers’ trust, we will take action.”
Over the past two years, the LEGO Group has obtained positive outcomes in its intellectual property enforcement actions in China. In October 2017, the LEGO Group won a case at Shantou Intermediate Court against BELA, a Chinese toy manufacturer, for infringing the copyrights of the LEGO Group and for unfair competition. In another case decided earlier in July 2017, the LEGO logo and the LEGO word mark were recognized by the Beijing Higher Court as “well-known” trademarks in China.