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
Earlier today, a district court in China ruled against four companies for infringing multiple LEGO copyrights by producing and distributing LEPIN-branded imitation products. The companies were ordered to “immediately cease producing, selling, exhibiting or in any way promoting the infringing products” and to pay LEGO 4.5 million RMB in damages (about $650,000 US).
The four companies, including Shantou Meizhi Model Co. among others, were held liable by the Guangzhou Yuexiu District Court for copying 18 specific LEGO sets and multiple minifigures in addition to “carrying out unfair competitive acts.” Niels B. Christiansen, CEO of the LEGO Group commented that the rulings “send a clear warning message to other companies who may be copying LEGO products,” and that the company will continue to “take all necessary legal actions to protect our intellectual property rights.”
The ruling is another significant legal victory for LEGO as the company continues to battle imitators in China. Last year, LEGO won a similar case against Bela Bricks for creating, distributing and selling imitation LEGO products. The rulings also provide precedent to continue pursuing many other clone brands who have tried shutting down and reopening with different names to avoid enforcement.