There has been a victory for the LEGO Group in China, as the company has won a court case against clone brand Lepin.
Today, the LEGO Group received a “favourable decision” from the Guangzhou Yuexiu District Court. Four defendants, including Shantou Meizhi Model Co. and Shantou Meizhi Model Ltd., have been found to have copied 18 LEGO sets, “multiple” LEGO minifigures and for “unfair competition acts”.
Lepin models are imitations of official LEGO sets and LEGO fan designs, that the company copies extremely closely, even down to the box art, often simply switching out the LEGO logo for a Lepin one. Such clone brands have been prevalent in China for a number of years, selling products at significantly lower prices than the LEGO Group – but also at significantly lower quality.
As a result of the court case, the defendants have been ordered to stop “producing, selling, exhibiting or in any other way promoting” the products that infringe on the LEGO Group’s intellectual property. The LEGO Group has also been awarded RMB 4.5 million (approx. £500,000).
“We welcome the court’s ruling,” said Niels B. Christiansen, Chief Executive Officer of the LEGO Group said. “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.
“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.”
The LEGO Group is keen to highlight recent successes in China, such as when it was recognised that the company’s branding would be recognised as a “well-known” trademark.