Since the very first LEGO production line began its work in China a couple of years ago, the unholy work of Chinese knockoff brands have also increased exponentially. Thankfully, China has given the LEGO brand the legal protection that it so rightfully deserves when the Beijing Higher Court passed a ruling early in November, that designates the LEGO logo and brand as a “well-known trademark”.
As a result, it looks like LEGO finally has leverage against all counterfeit brands that originate from the Asian giant. Yesterday, LEGO has just announced that it received a favorable decision from China Shantou Intermediate People’s Court, indicating its first landmark victory against LEGO knockoff brands. According to The LEGO Group, this decision in favor of TLG against BELA Products in which the latter has infringed upon the copyrights of LEGO, has strengthened its resolve to pursue legal remedies against other counterfeit brands that proliferate in the country and other parts of the world.
Additionally, the Chinese court also decided that the LEGO Group should enjoy the protection under Chinese anti-unfair completion laws for its unique designs and aesthetic aspects, which BELA violated when it marketed its LEGO Friends-like sets. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but we are definitely not happy about it. Take a look at some of BELA’s ‘flattering’ approach of imitation.
Here’s LEGO’s complete press release regarding this legal triumph.
THE LEGO GROUP WINS CASE AGAINST MANUFACTURERS OF BELA PRODUCTS IN CHINA
The LEGO Group has received a favorable decision from China Shantou Intermediate People’s Court in September holding that certain BELA products infringed upon the copyrights of the LEGO Group and that manufacturing and selling of those products constituted acts of unfair competition. It is the first time the LEGO Group has filed and won an anti-unfair competition case against imitators in China.
The case was filed against two Chinese companies, which had been manufacturing and selling products that were almost identical to LEGO®products. The decisions come into effect in November 2017.
The court decided that the two Chinese companies must stop copying the packaging and logos of LEGO products in the future, as this constitutes copyright infringement. The court also decided that the LEGO Group enjoys protection under Chinese anti-unfair competition laws for the distinctive and unique appearance of certain decorative aspects of its packaging across particular product lines (in this case, LEGO Friends), which serves the purpose of making consumers immediately recognize and associate the products with the LEGO Group.
Peter Thorslund Kjær, Vice President, Legal Affairs in the LEGO Group, said: “We are pleased with the ruling by Shantou Intermediate People’s Court, which we see as a strong indication of the continued focus on proper intellectual property protection and enforcement by the Chinese courts and responsible authorities. We think this is very important for the continued development of a favorable business environment for all companies operating in the Chinese market.”
“We will continue our efforts to ensure that parents and children are able to make informed choices when they are buying toy products, and that they are not misled by attempts by irresponsible companies to make toy products appear as something that they are not.”
The LEGO Group takes the protection of its intellectual property very seriously and takes the necessary steps to ensure that its copyrights, trademarks, patents or intellectual properties are not being violated.