After a seemingly long road of protecting its copyrights, The LEGO Group and fans of the brand have another reason to celebrate. Since news of TLG’s legal actions against Chinese counterfeit brand, Lepin, came out two years ago, the Guangzhou Intellectual Property Court in China has now laid out its final decisions in favor of LEGO. Ultimately, Lepin loses in court and consumers once again are protected from fake LEGO products.
After the November 2018 ruling against Shantou Meizhi Model Co., Ltd, the company responsible for the production and proliferation of Lepin products both locally and internationally, has filed several appeals in court. However, in its final decision, the courts have found the defendant guilty of 18 counts of copyright infringement against the LEGO brand.
Furthermore, Shantou Meizhi Model Co. is ordered to pay The LEGO Group the total amount of RMB 4.7 million, around DKK 4.5 million (approximately $700,000) for damages, make a public apology on the country’s most widely recognized toy organization websites, and to finally cease the production of such LEGO counterfeit products.
Here’s the complete press release that details what will happen next now that Lepin loses in court. For authentic LEGO products and sets, be sure to check with LEGO Shop@Home or at your nearest LEGO brand store.
The LEGO Group wins final decisions in major intellectual property lawsuits against Lepin manufacturer in China
The LEGO Group announced today that it has received favourable final decisions from the Guangzhou Intellectual Property Court against the appeals raised by defendants of multiple intellectual property infringement cases in China. It marks a significant legal victory for the LEGO Group to combat against imitators.
The court decided to uphold all of the first-instance rulings on the 18 copyright infringement and one unfair competition cases, which were handed down in favour of the LEGO Group in November 2018. These second-instance decisions are final and have entered into legal effect immediately upon issuance.
In these cases, Shantou Meizhi Model Co., Ltd. and its affiliates are liable of manufacturing and selling the infringing Lepin products. The 18 LEGO® sets and corresponding LEGO minifigures at dispute, are ruled as artworks protected under China Copyright Law belonging to the LEGO Group. Unauthorized copies of the same constitute copyright infringement, said the court.
The LEGO NINJAGO, NEXO KNIGHTS, and LEGENDS OF CHIMA series of toy sets are recognized by the court as products of certain influence in China. The trade dress for these products (and packaging) as well as the characters of LEGO NINJAGO are protected under the Anti-Unfair Competition Law in China, the court said in the final ruling.
Meizhi Model and all other defendants are ordered to cease infringement immediately, and to pay the LEGO Group a total of RMB 4.7 million (around DKK 4.5m) as damages. They are also ordered to make a public apology on the websites of China Toy and Juvenile Products Association and Guangdong Toy Association to the LEGO Group for Lepin infringement.
Robin Smith, Vice President and General Counsel, China & Asia Pacific, The LEGO Group, said “[i]ntellectual property rights are very important to the LEGO Group, and we constantly strive to enforce and protect our LEGO trademarks, copyrights, designs and patents. We are pleased with the court’s final decision and appreciate the efforts from all stakeholders in this case. It also shows the Chinese authorities’ commitment in creating a favourable business environment for multinational companies.”
The LEGO Group will follow up with the court on the collection of damages granted and enforcement of public apologies by Meizhi Model. It will also continue to support Shanghai police and procuratorate in the ongoing criminal case against executives of Meizhi Model who were arrested during the police’s raid against Lepin factories in April 2019.
The LEGO Group is dedicated to enforcing intellectual property rights against copiers and infringers and to protect its consumers. It has obtained many positive outcomes in its intellectual property enforcement actions in China in the past several years. 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.