For many years, LEGO’s effort to establish a strong market presence in China has been challenged by rip-off brands from manufacturers producing fraudulent copies of official LEGO sets. Even the awarding of “well-known trademark” status to LEGO by the government has not stopped the appearance of new fake-sets from copy brands like Xingbao and Lepin. Recently however, the public’s been made aware that LEGO may have just scored a powerful legal blow against Lepin in the Guangdong People’s High Court, the resolution of a copyright infringement lawsuit where LEGO wins its legal battle eventually against the Chinese copy-brand two years ago.
The penalties Lepin incurred, as LEGO wins its legal battle, include the paying of 15 million Yuan ($2.2 million) in damages to LEGO; a warning to desist in further copyright infringement, including creating similar labels for sets from some of LEGO’s well-known themes such as Star Wars, Ninjago, Nexo Knights to name a few; a prohibition on conducting online business transactions over Chinese social media; and finally paying full legal costs for the proceedings.
Actually the court decision was already long finalized since July 21, 2017. It was only recently that word of it has gone out, and Lepin also can’t make any further appeals on the decision and have no choice but to comply.
Lepin being Lepin however, they’re finding ways to survive and still roll out LEGO knockoffs for buyers who want a brick-building experience on the cheap. Since the infringement covers only their product packaging and labeling, Lepin has resorted to discreet boxes when shipping. It was also discovered in the publicized court decision that both the Lepin firm and fellow copy-brand Xingbao are subsidiaries under the MeiZi Model company. It’ll be interesting to see what further steps LEGO will take to put a stop to these knockoffs once and for all.