Following the court case against LEPIN in November 2018, the Chinese counterfeiters are back in the news again and, this time, the police are involved. On Tuesday, April 23rd police raided the Shenzhen plant belonging to the notorious manufacturer of imitation LEGO products. Shanghai police orchestrated the raid, which led to four arrests including the leader of LEPIN’s parent company, Meizhi. According to a post on the Shanghai police’s Weibo account, over 200 million RMB (nearly 30 million USD) of LEPIN products were confiscated. This included more than 630,000 finished sets, 200,000 boxes, 200,000 instruction leaflets and manuals, and over 90 production molds.
Learn more about the LEPIN raid, including pictures from this breaking story
Can you tell which LEGO minifigure is real and which is counterfeit? Because even some LEGO employees can’t. In a video interview with the BBC, LEGO’s General Manager of Manufacturing in Asia Richard Wong is asked to identify which of two minifigures is fake, but has some difficulty after a quick look.
The interview serves as a microcosm of a larger issue: copycat, imitation and counterfeit LEGO. While competition from legitimate companies like Mega Bloks is entirely legal and healthy, knock-off brands in Asia are copying entire sets, artwork, intellectual property, and logos directly from LEGO.
Counterfeit version of LEGO’s
Ghostbusters Firehouse Headquarters
In order to curb some of the rampant counterfeiting (among other reasons), LEGO recently opened a manufacturing facility in Jiaxing, China and is suing knock-off brand LEPIN in Chinese court. LEGO commented about the lawsuit in a statement: “We are committed to do whatever necessary to protect the LEGO brand and products against undue exploitation, and to minimize the risk of consumers being misled via improper use of LEGO Group intellectual property assets.”
It is true that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but it remains to be seen if any of LEGO’s actions help prevent what essentially boils down to theft.
What are your opinions about counterfeit LEGO from China? Leave a comment below.