20 Jan 2020 – In the latest update to the ongoing legal battle between LEGO and Lepin(a copycat brick company), the Guangzhou Intellectual Property court have ruled a final decision in favour of LEGO and upheld all 18 copyright infringements previously charged to Shantou Meizhi Model Co., Ltd, owners of the Lepin copycat brick company back in Oct/Nov 2018. This final decision is the result of the appeal done by Shantou Meizhi Model Co., Ltd, against the original ruling.

Basic chain of events
Oct 2018 – Court ruling against Shantou Meizhi Model Co., Ltd,
April 2019 – Shantou Meizhi Model Shenzhen Factory Raid by Shanghai Police
Jan 2020 – Final decision against Shantou Meizhi Model Co., Ltd,

“Customize Minifigures Intelligence” has done a pretty in-depth write up about the current situation on those copycat brick companies a month ago which is worth a read.

LEGO wins final decision against Shantou Meizhi Model Co., Ltd

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.

Photos and report below were released by the Shanghai police in April 2019 after the factory raid and investigation (as translated by Google)

In October 2018, the Shanghai Municipal Public Security Bureau’s Economic Investigation Corps found in its work that the “Lego” building blocks assembled on the market are extremely similar to the “Lego” toys and are suspected of infringing the copyright of the “Lego” brand. , Soon locked a criminal gang headed by Li. Upon investigation, the criminal suspect Yu Mou and others opened a design company in Shenzhen and engraved the “Lego” building block toy 1: 1 into a design drawing and handed it to Li.

The criminal suspect, Li, registered the “Lepin” trademark in the name of “Longjun Toy Factory”, and made molds into injection molding machines for mass production according to “Lego” toy design drawings, which were then sold throughout the country. On April 23, with the cooperation of the police in Shantou, Shenzhen and other places in Shanghai, the Shanghai Police successfully destroyed this criminal gang suspected of infringing the copyright of the “Lego” brand, arrested 4 suspects led by Li, and destroyed production and packaging 3 warehouses and warehouses, more than 10 assembly lines, more than 90 production molds, nearly 200,000 manuals, more than 200,000 packaging boxes, and more than 630,000 finished “Lepin” toys, involving more than 200 million yuan.

The product descriptions, schematic diagrams, and packaging of “Lego” toys are copyrighted and protected by law. “Lepin” is for profit-making purposes, and is copied and produced without authorization. The amount of illegal income is huge and has constituted a criminal offense.

The Shanghai police successfully cracked the case, fully demonstrating the confidence and determination of the public security organs in cracking down on intellectual property infringement crimes, effectively safeguarding the creative and intellectual achievements of enterprises, and effectively deterring criminals who attempt to make profits through plagiarism and low prices.

Currently, four criminal suspects, including Li, Yu, Du, and Yan, have been criminally detained in accordance with the law, and the case is still under investigation.Shanghai Police Weixin


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