This morning (November 6 2018), the LEGO Group announced a favourable decision against Shantou Meizhi Model Co., Ltd. and three other defendents,who have made copies of LEGO brand sets, and distributed them under the LEPIN name. As well as being ordered to cease and desist production and promotion of the infringing products, the defendants have been ordered to pay the LEGO Group RMB 4.5 million as damages. Whilst the penalty of $AUD901125/$USD649528 may not be a knockout blow, the cease and desist order might be more useful in keeping the production of inferior quality copies of fan favourite sets.
In recent weeks,I have certainly noticed an increased promotion of clone sets in my social media newsfeed , and it will be interesting to see how this new ruling will affect such advertising for LEPIN’s resellers.
This comes at a time when China becomes an increasingly important market for the LEGO Group: In recent months, a second flagship store has opened, along with multiple certified stores. In September, mobile game developer Tencent games announced LEGO Cube, a sandbox game for the Chinese market. This is in conjunction with an increasing manufacturing presence over recent years.
This year, we have seen LEPIN announce copies of LEGO Sets almost within minutes of the official announcement, as well as announcing production of some MOCs shown on social media. I look forward to seeing if things change after this new announcement.
Until Next time:
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.