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LEGO fight Against Chinese counterfeit LEGO

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Comments

  • TigerMothTigerMoth Member Posts: 2,343
    Recce said:

    - Curious to know which will be their arguments for the case. Minifigures?
    I thought people here considered they were different? If the fans do, I can't see them winning on that point.
    Special  copyrighted part designs from past few years?
    That wouldn't be good, although I have a feeling that might be the case. It would tend to indicate they haven't got a stronger argument. When they tried it with Coko, they also lost half of their claims.
    Brand logo similarity?
    They'd argue that the Western font was meaningless to most Chinese, whereas there own meant something.
    Illegal use of their product stock photos?
    That always struck me as a stupid thing to do - almost waving a red rag at a bull. LEPIN deserve to lose that.
    - If TLG wins the court case, I suspect it may not impact the situation much, as Lepin would likely just make the changes and continue to release updated versions based on the court rulings. At most they change to a different company, like all other clone brands in China.
    I have wondered whether it's never been about the products but about the exposure. LEPIN might've reproduced sets to get people talking about them, and to make a name for themselvet.es in their chosen markets. If TLG eventually went after them and won, they'd get their wrists slapped and move on - but keep the status of the brand. They'll still have another few years anyway - Coko dragged on for six years.
    nhyone said:

    This news is so fresh that when I searched on baidu, someone on a Chinese forum linked it to here! :-D
    It's not news yet; there's no press release.
  • RecceRecce Tiny Little Red DotMember Posts: 923
    nhyone said:
    Recce said:
    - The court proceedings can drag on for years so likely to drain TLG's resources and may distract/affect their core business, I'm not sure this is a good thing.
    According to the news, the first instance decision will be in approximate one year's time. Lepin now has a deadline to release all the sets. :-D

    This news is so fresh that when I searched on baidu, someone on a Chinese forum linked it to here! :-D

    One year from now is just the first hearing? Meaning the proceedings could drag on for years.

    Since now Lepin can officially sell their products while waiting for the hearing, maybe they should quickly source for a 1-year contract EU distributor and get as many sets out to EU market as possible before the hearing.
  • LunchieteyLunchietey Australia Member Posts: 24
    My SSD lepin set has arrived. 

    Gotta say it came in only a week from China. So far so good.

    Have one set to build before (current xwing from Lego) then I will start the SSD. 

    Piece quality looks very good. Will be ordering the MF in the next few days.
  • ninjabricksninjabricks ChinaMember Posts: 7
    Lepin shipped UCS Millennium Falcon. That happened a day before the lawsuit. https://www.facebook.com/ShopofNinjaBricks/posts/1113288118753426
  • monkeyhangermonkeyhanger Member Posts: 3,013
    Nhyone: The DS2 is out there and available, pretty sure Lepin are the cloning company behind its release.
  • mountebankmountebank Member Posts: 1,237
    Chinese companies do play the IP game when it suits them. This is about the most well known Chinese manufacturer brand in the UK (electronics, not bricks):

    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-huawei-patent-idUSKBN0MF17820150319

    https://www.engadget.com/2016/07/22/samsung-sues-huawei-patent/

    Chinese companies aren't hard wired to ignore IP for cultural reasons. It's just that many choose to do so for financial reasons. And when there's a financial benefit in switching their stance, they do so.

    Aanchir
  • AustinPowersAustinPowers GermanyMember Posts: 278
    edited September 2016

    Very interesting this lawsuit by TLG. Just a few pages of this thread ago someone posted a screenshot of an email by a Lego service employee that in essence said what Lepin are doing is annoying but not legally actionable.

    Now they are actually initiating a lawsuit.

    Imho the pace at which Lepin is releasing new sets and the exponentially growing popularity of their offerings while at the same time ever more AFOLs are criticising TLG's seeming policy of ever more price gouging is the key reason for TLG's action.

    Lepin must by now make an impact to TLG's wallet, possibly more than we can imagine, plus an impact on TLG's plans for the Asian market.

    From what I gather by the comments of posters from Asian countries on this an other forums about Lepin and other clone products, the sentiment in the Asian markets seems to be that TLG is just another company and that Lepin, Decool, SY, etc. are normal market contenders.

    If TLG didn't plan to expand more into the Asian markets, they probably wouldn't care as much.

    If Lepin and other clone brand sets wouldn't sell in the West, they probably wouldn't care as much either.

    But both ifs don't seem to be the case (any longer).

    Just half a year ago I had never heard the name Lepin ever. When I thought of brands with bricks of Lego style I thought of MegaBloks, BestLock and perhaps some others the names of which I can't remember, because they only sold for a while at Aldi or other discounters and never came back.

    I first read about Lepin on this very thread. Had they just offered clones of current sets I would likely have just been intrigued, brushed it off as "ah well, another crappy Chinese rip-off that isn't even sold here", and moved on.

    But as they are producing copies of retired and sought after sets at ridiculously cheap prices, that according to ever more reviews were of quite remarkable quality for their price, I got really interested.

    So much so that after quite some hesitation I bought their version of the Green Grocer. As I have described in detail before, that purchase did come with a lot more hassle than what I would have hoped, but all that was due to the seller I used. The set itself was far better than anything I would have thought beforehand.

    A few weeks later, a friend of mine has bought his first Lepin set, there is even a dedicated German Lepin forum now, and I know quite a few other people from Germany personally who are now interested in Lepin products.
    Now multiply my few personal acquaintances by a factor of xxx to get to the viable exposure of Lepin in Germany alone. Add in the exposure (and free advertising) they will get once this lawsuit is publicised on the mainstream media (which it surely will, as TLG is such a high profile company), and Lepin will be a household name not only in AFOL circles over here.

    Now take into consideration the fact how long this lawsuit will undoubtedly be dragging on, and at the same time the speed with which Lepin issues new sets. And even in the unlikely event of Lepin losing, what is to stop them from changing their box-art and instruction manuals to something completely Lepin-unique, and renaming STAR WNRS to something like SpaceFight or whatever. And the Creators line to something like ClassicHouses or somesuch. What then?

    Interesting scenario on the horizon for sure.

    All things considered, I am not sure TLG will be the winner in this situation.
    I think that indeed a "Classic Line" or something similar in their portfolio, plus silent action against Lepin without public exposure would have served TLG much better.

    But we will see.

    By the way, did I mention that my Lepin Town Hall has arrived a couple of days ago? Without any problems I might add*. And that it now stands fully built next to my Green Grocer and awaits the arrival of the Lepin Haunted House?

    (* and within just one week after ordering, including a delay at customs. That is faster than with quite a few sets I had ordered via Lego [email protected]!)

    Honestly, as I have said many times before, if TLG had sold rereleases of their highly sought after sets (and TLG would easily know which sets these are by just looking at the secondary market on ebay et al), the Lepin name still wouldn't be widely known over here. 

    Bobflipcatwrangler
  • XefanXefan Member Posts: 1,149
    TigerMoth said:
    Then start your witch-hunt in Germany, not China. That's where the CNC milling machines are. There is no reason for the parameters to get anywhere near China.
    Most Chinese espionage is done digitally, there's a fair chance that if they've acquired these designs they've done so not by physically raiding the factories that physically have the moulds, but by stealing the specifications from TLG's networks.

    Chinese hacking attempts are prolific, and I've witnessed them first hand when I worked at an engineering firm. We had offices in China and explicitly restricted them accessing some of our more sensitive R&D data, but within weeks of opening there were attempts to break further into the network. The people from our company who were over there working with the Chinese office raised it with the authorities but they just weren't interested.

    I actually disagree with the US fear mongering over the Chinese, and their implication that much of this hacking is state sponsored, I don't think it is (except the defence related stuff). It is however state sanctioned in that China has de-facto legalised such espionage in contravention of numerous international accords it's signed up to from Berne to the relevant provisions in numerous related WTO and WIPO agreements. China just doesn't enforce computer crime laws unless it's political expedient to do so (i.e. if they want to prosecute a political dissident).

    So it should really be obvious why China keeps being blamed in this particular thread, the answer is obvious - China is responsible. As I've pointed out before there are clear breaches of IP infringement being carried out by Lepin, which TLG has now decided to take action on - given China's protectionism it wouldn't even be worth trying if it wasn't clear cut that Lepin was in breach of IP laws, and it's a long shot regardless with China's poor enforcement, but they've obviously decided it's worth spending the money now to at least try.

    In many ways I sympathise with China, the fact is the West has tilted IP laws grossly in their favour to the detriment not just to the economies of developing nations, but at a cost of lives in developing nations, most notable in the pharmaceutical industries - drugs that should be cheap cost a fortune because cheap clones can't be made, with the pharma industry saying it's essential that that's the case or it would not be cost effective for them to produce such drugs, though I don't buy that argument - there's a reason big pharma is one of the single biggest industries in the world, and it's not because they're running on tight margins that would be destroyed if IP laws were changed. Given this it's not surprising that they opt to ignore Western IP laws, but here's where I take issue with them doing it - they expect the benefits of joining the clubs that enforce those laws, that's not playing fair. If you don't want to follow Western IP laws then don't join the clubs like the WTO, start your own instead and creating your own regime.

    So I believe that whilst China's reaction to Western IP laws is understandable, that doesn't make the actions of Lepin excusable, they're both legally and morally wrong, regardless of whether China actually bothers to enforce the law. I do think however that this doesn't completely exonerate TLG, I'm a firm believer that disused IP for which there is still customer demand should be made available with a licensing fee - i.e. if TLG aren't willing to produce the UCS MF then they should allow Lepin to reproduce it but be able to charge a licensing fee to help recover design costs.

    China and Lepin are certainly in the wrong, but they're in the wrong about a problem that the West shares much blame for creating in the first place. You can't however realistically absolve China of all blame - China is effectively asking to have it's cake and eat it too, it wants the profits of trading with the West, but doesn't want to play by their rules relating to espionage and IP infringement. It's incredibly naive to suggest or imply that Chinese firms don't engage in espionage or that if they did their police would act against it, because I've seen the evidence first hand that the Chinese are happy to engage in espionage, and that their police will not typically investigate it - god only knows there are many thousands of other cases of people seeing the exact same thing out there. We're sure as hell not all imagining it.
    dougtspharmjodcatwranglerew027
  • LunchieteyLunchietey Australia Member Posts: 24
    Spent a bit of time sussing out the large box of pieces I recieved today. 

    Still really really impressed with the value for money. Absolutely worthy of being displayed until TLG rerelease the UCS sets I want (if that ever happens!). This was probably 1/6th the cost of an official release of this size....$118USD shipped!

    Even handed my wife a bag of bricks and said pick anything you can see different(she helps me build sets by finding all of the pieces of each step on large builds so has handled a lot of lego) and she looked hard and could only point out the lack of lego logos on the bricks.

    I am suitably satisfied with this and will order an MF tomorrow! I used a seller from alibaba and it has arrived faster than any ebay seller I have used. It's just a heavily taped cardboard box but it's heavy and secure and arrived in a week which is impressive. The store on alibaba is called 'Dream House' and seems to have most of the sets in stock. Will order the MF from them.

    Muftak1
  • TheBigLegoskiTheBigLegoski Amsterdam, NederlandMember Posts: 1,435
    edited September 2016
    Saw this atricle on the front page of Brickset:
    http://brickset.com/article/23648/the-lego-group-takes-action-against-clone-brand-lepin
    I have not paid a lot of attention to this thread, as there still many pages with comments I have yet to read.

    However I wish TLG all the best of success in China with their court case, even though I have NO faith in China's courts and judicial system. (I do not even always have all that much faith in the courts and legal system my own country and that of many other western countries, based on the rulings of the various courts, still it is above and beyond the practice in China.) China is a country with a rich and ancient culture, and I know there a plenty of good and honest Chinese people, but that does not change the fact that it is also a very corrupt country with no regard for free speech and human rights, and 'rule of law', run by a most corrupt and nepotistic elite, whose economy is build on slave labour, as well as many disingenuous, outright deceitful Chinese entrepreneurs with who it is most precarious doing business. Personally I think TLG should have never outsourced any of their Lego production to China to begin with, but instead have invested more in Europe, and other western countries. BMW not too long ago lost a law suits they filed in China, and I have read numerous articles, as well as heard several accounts of people from my country doing business with Chinese companies, investing there, and setting up, or outsourcing a part of their business in China, and all the obstacles, problems they encountered doing so, such as the Chinese not being honest; not sticking to agreements and contracts; espionage and theft of technology and knowledge, producing a surplus on top of what has been agreed to be sold off clandestinely etc.

    I am a Lego fan so I do not buy fake rip-off stuff such as what ever Lepin makes and sells. I suppose many people who consider themselves to be a Lego fans, and care about the brand, the quality, the originality, creativity in design, authenticity, and everything Lego embodies and/or claims to represent would probably do the same. Although paradoxically at the same time, I understand that people out of curiosity may want to know what the 'competition' is up to, and see for them selves what their products are like.
        
    I have no problem with a brand such as Megablocks, even though I don't own, or have any interest in their products myself. The difference between a Lego compatible brand such as Megablocks that develop their own sets, product lines, and (licensed) themes, and Lepin is: that Lepin is a blatant copycat and counterfeiter of Lego sets. Even if Lepin have changed a few letters on the box art of copied and forged Lego sets.

    I hope for TLG's sake that they are successful in dealing with Lepin, and that China's authorities, and courts will corroborate the validity of the civil claims made by TLG.


    However I also do think that there is a correlation between Lego set retail prices and the emergence of the various cheaper knock-off brands springing up, and being successful and more more widely available.

    TLG's pricing policy is something to be critical about. As a result of Lego getting more and more expensive, marking up their prices, and thus becoming too expensive for many consumers, resulting in people buying fewer Lego sets, as their budget to spend on Lego is not increasing, yet still having a (economic)demand/desire to buy construction toys, more and more knock off brands, and loose 'clone' bricks have started popping up in various stores in the Netherlands over the last couple of years. N.B. wages of most people in Europe have not increased since the crisis of 2008, interest is close to zero, but many things in life have become more expensive, even though models used to calculate inflation indicate it is low, for many people life has become more expensive.  If I compare Lego prices in the Netherlands with those in Germany, or other countries (such as the USA), I can only conclude that Lego in my country is too expensive, and on top of that even more so with the resent price mark up. It would not surprise me if this will have an adverse effect on TLG in the long run. Especially because so much is being sold and bought via the internet nowadays.

    ps.
    I think it would be a good idea for TLG to consider (even though Lego resellers will hate me for it) to reissue certain 'classic' sets (such as the UCS Millennium Falcon etc.) and make them available to consumers for affordable prices, as well as undo some of their price mark-ups.
    legomental
  • TigerMothTigerMoth Member Posts: 2,343
    Xefan said:

    It's incredibly naive to suggest or imply that Chinese firms don't engage in espionage
    Undoubtedly. The issue lies in the ways it's done. Some people connect things which may be related to espionage to the presence of a TLG factory in China. As you indicated yourself, it's much, much more sophisticated than that. Most people have no idea of what can be done - it's probably better that way!

    Nor is it something that is particularly Chinese. Any company in the world would use the ideas of another if they thought they could get away with it. It's the reason why patent laws even exist. There are also plenty of companies that try, get caught and then argue the toss of whether they have or not.



    It's worth considering that our own ideas on IP have changed over the last century or so. We are where we are largely because we used to share ideas. The history of scientific achievement is carpeted with it, and we are better off because of it. The goal used to be knowledge, not money. That's changed, but the point is that it's clearly not something that has always been set in stone. So when two cultures with totally different ideologies meet, there are going to be conflicts and issues.
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,444


    I am suitably satisfied with this and will order an MF tomorrow! 


    Rainstorm26
  • TigerMothTigerMoth Member Posts: 2,343
    No self-respecting collector of LEGO products would use the word "LEGO" like that!
  • datsunrobbiedatsunrobbie West Haven , CTMember Posts: 1,701
    How many "self respecting LEGO collectors" will buy a genuine LEGO UCS MF to give to their 5 year old grandson as a toy? Once upon a time, LEGO sold boxes of plastic parts that children (of all ages) would assemble into various configurations to entertain themselves. Imagine, if you will, children ripping open the packaging and discarding it, and tossing the parts into a big bucket with their other toys when they were done playing for the day. That is the LEGO I remember from my youth, and that is the LEGO I buy now. Schrodinger's Millennium Falcon just tells me the person who owns it has enough money that they can leave several thousand dollars sitting on a shelf. I'd rather have a big tub of LEGO bricks my grandson and I can share.

    I agree that LEPIN is infringing copyrights on their releases, and the owners of those copyrights should certainly do everything they can to defend their rights. This article implies that the LEGO suits are focused on "appearance and packaging", according to Google translation.
    http://www.passiontimes.hk/article/09-23-2016/32813

    I imagine that LEGO will get around to a real press release, as opposed to an email to the LEGO Ambassadors Network, and eventually we will get to see what the legal basis of their suit is.
    legomentalcatwrangler
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 19,834
    edited September 2016
    How many "self respecting LEGO collectors" will buy a genuine LEGO UCS MF to give to their 5 year old grandson as a toy?


    Not me. I'd wait until he was at least 12. Although maybe best to buy a fake now.
    I imagine that LEGO will get around to a real press release, as opposed to an email to the LEGO Ambassadors Network, and eventually we will get to see what the legal basis of their suit is.

    It is a slightly strange game lego are playing. They obviously don't want to make an official statement on it, yet they want hard-core lego fans to know they are doing something about it and maybe try to fend of criticism that they don't do anything about fakes.
    catwrangler
  • TigerMothTigerMoth Member Posts: 2,343
    datsunrobbie said:

    This article implies that the LEGO suits are focused on "appearance and packaging", according to Google translation.
    http://www.passiontimes.hk/article/09-23-2016/32813
    That sounds a bit weak. If LEPIN lose, they' probably appeal - which will add another year or so to the process, then take some photographs of their own and reset the clock. By then, I'm don't really imagine they'll be too interested in any sets to which the case relates.

    I can't help thinking that this is just a token effort to be seen to be doing something. Whilst there might be comments about the fairness of the Chinese courts, I'm not sure that "winning" on this sort of basis would actually give them anything worth having.
    datsunrobbie said:

    I imagine that LEGO will get around to a real press release, as opposed to an email to the LEGO Ambassadors Network, and eventually we will get to see what the legal basis of their suit is.
    I suspect they're avoiding the weekend newspapers. The press release will probably say no more than the email, not giving any details for people to discuss. Those will come from China.
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,444
    How many "self respecting LEGO collectors" will buy a genuine LEGO UCS MF to give to their 5 year old grandson as a toy? Once upon a time, LEGO sold boxes of plastic parts that children (of all ages) would assemble into various configurations to entertain themselves. Imagine, if you will, children ripping open the packaging and discarding it, and tossing the parts into a big bucket with their other toys when they were done playing for the day. That is the LEGO I remember from my youth, and that is the LEGO I buy now. Schrodinger's Millennium Falcon just tells me the person who owns it has enough money that they can leave several thousand dollars sitting on a shelf. I'd rather have a big tub of LEGO bricks my grandson and I can share.

    I agree that LEPIN is infringing copyrights on their releases, and the owners of those copyrights should certainly do everything they can to defend their rights. This article implies that the LEGO suits are focused on "appearance and packaging", according to Google translation.
    http://www.passiontimes.hk/article/09-23-2016/32813

    I imagine that LEGO will get around to a real press release, as opposed to an email to the LEGO Ambassadors Network, and eventually we will get to see what the legal basis of their suit is.
    Yeah...yeah, just like Kenner Star Wars and Classic and 3 3/4" G.I. Joe. I played with LEGO the same way I played with those toys and now they are worth $1,000's to the right collector. I used to order LEGO over the phone too, does that mean I should still order LEGO over the phone? Here's the deal; how many parents bought a $499.99 USD UCS MF for their kids back then? LEGO didn't make many and they sold poorly. I am not telling you that you can't buy LEPIN or what to do with your LEGO or LEPIN sets. What you do with your money is up to you, so don't tell me what I am supposed to do with my LEGO. Those children who decided to not open their Mego Superfriends or Star Wars are sitting on a small fortune right now; do you suggest they rip open the packaging because that is what was intended? 
     
    SumoLego
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,444
    edited September 2016

    CCC said:
    How many "self respecting LEGO collectors" will buy a genuine LEGO UCS MF to give to their 5 year old grandson as a toy?


    Not me. I'd wait until he was at least 12. Although maybe best to buy a fake now.
    My 6 year old wants The Temple of Airjitsu, I am going to buy it for her. If you remember, I also bought her the Grand Carousel to commemorate her birth; she is free to do whatever she wants with it :)
    davetheoxygenmancatwrangler
  • datsunrobbiedatsunrobbie West Haven , CTMember Posts: 1,701
    I can understand not wanting to make a big deal of it in the mainstream press, at least in the US, since LEPIN is not a household name here. Once the suit becomes general knowledge a lot more people will know about LEPIN, not just the tiny fraction of LEGO customers who visit AFOL websites. Unless LEGO can get distribution shut down while the court system grinds along. Filing suit is like free advertising for LEPIN.

    BestLock and LEGO have been fighting in court in CT since 2012, and that case is still ongoing. If the Chinese courts move at the same glacial pace, LEPIN will have years to sell their infringing product before the case is settled, unless LEGO can actually get an injunction to stop them. 
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 19,834
    Pitfall69 said:

    CCC said:
    How many "self respecting LEGO collectors" will buy a genuine LEGO UCS MF to give to their 5 year old grandson as a toy?


    Not me. I'd wait until he was at least 12. Although maybe best to buy a fake now.
    My 6 year old wants The Temple of Airjitsu, I am going to buy it for her. If you remember, I also bought her the Grand Carousel to commemorate her birth; she is free to do whatever she wants with it :)
    What age did / will you give it to her? There is a difference between buying for and giving to. My daughter has quite a but of jewellery. She isn't getting most of it until she's 18 though.
    Jern92
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 10,174
    Interesting. Now that LEGO is going to be opening factories in China (soon I'm guessing if not already), I wonder if there will be more 'acceptable' lawsuits allowed by the Chinese government on those ripping off the properties and designs now that LEGO, and likely the Chinese government, lose money if there are LEGO knockoffs.
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,444
    CCC said:
    Pitfall69 said:

    CCC said:
    How many "self respecting LEGO collectors" will buy a genuine LEGO UCS MF to give to their 5 year old grandson as a toy?


    Not me. I'd wait until he was at least 12. Although maybe best to buy a fake now.
    My 6 year old wants The Temple of Airjitsu, I am going to buy it for her. If you remember, I also bought her the Grand Carousel to commemorate her birth; she is free to do whatever she wants with it :)
    What age did / will you give it to her? There is a difference between buying for and giving to. My daughter has quite a but of jewellery. She isn't getting most of it until she's 18 though.
    She has it already and broke it already. I now have to rebuild it so it works. It is pretty boring when it is not going around in circles and just sitting there :)
    davetheoxygenmanSprinkleOtter
  • datsunrobbiedatsunrobbie West Haven , CTMember Posts: 1,701
    Pitfall69, I think it is great that you are buying LEGO for your daughter and letting her play with it, or not, as she sees fit. I'm not telling anybody how to spend their money or what to do with their LEGO. My point was the real LEGO UCS MF is a now very rare item and LEGO is not making any more of them. Some people can afford to buy a few of them and treat them just like a new polybag from Target, and that's great. Most people cannot afford to do that. I don't remember seeing anybody post on this forum that they scored a MISB UCS MF and actually broke the seals. It has become a LEGO unicorn.
  • LunchieteyLunchietey Australia Member Posts: 24
    Sorry. Not paying ridiculous money for a 10179 so the 'fake' MF will be just fine until the rumored rerelease appears. Then I will buy and build that and sell/donate the lepin set to someone who doesn't care about brands.

    I have some geeky nephews who would love it.

    Net reduction in Lego sales by me temporarily using Lepin sets to fill my man cave shelves = zero. I mean there is thousands of $ of genuine lego in that room so they've made money off me don't worry.

    Bricklinking to Australia is also prohibitively expensive so won't be doing that either.
  • nhyonenhyone Member Posts: 145
    edited September 2016
    datsunrobbie said:
    This article implies that the LEGO suits are focused on "appearance and packaging", according to Google translation.
    http://www.passiontimes.hk/article/09-23-2016/32813

    I imagine that LEGO will get around to a real press release, as opposed to an email to the LEGO Ambassadors Network, and eventually we will get to see what the legal basis of their suit is.
    This article is sourced from a local forum, which is based on the initial release on Brickset, so there is no new information.

    I doubt TLG will reveal anything until the court case is heard.

    I found the 2011 Coco court case and there were two points (only!):

    1. The pictures show Lego sets, misleading the buyers. I take it to mean they show Lego on the studs. That's why now all copycats are careful to PS the studs.

    2. The assembled products are copyrighted works of art.

    The court accepted point 1 and rejected point 2.
  • ericbericb Member Posts: 92
    @AustinPowers and @Lunchietey

    There is no need to defend your plans to purchase imitation LEGO sets.  No one cares.
    SprinkleOtter
  • SprinkleOtterSprinkleOtter Member Posts: 2,753
    ericb said:
    @AustinPowers and @Lunchietey

    There is no need to defend your plans to purchase imitation LEGO sets.  No one cares.
    Oh, znap!

    DontcopythatfloppyBobflippharmjodBumblepants
  • LunchieteyLunchietey Australia Member Posts: 24
    I don't care that you don't care.

    Of course some will care if people mention they have seen the sets. I read this thread  based on the fact it dealt with people being either happy, inpartial or upset about them. Why have a thread on Lego having to potentially fight a Chinese company if no one knows anything about actual quality? Some of the 'reviews' are almost advertising. I am an average 36yo Australian who has so far been pleasantly surprised by what is sitting on my dining table.

    I add my comments not to defend myself specifically, but to argue that Lego aren't specifically losing money over the sale of copied RETIRED sets. For clarity, I would never personally buy a cheap copy of a current set and will purchase any rereleased sets of copies I buy.

    There's also a lot of hypocrisy in this thread. Basically everyone in the world at some time or another buys 'off brand' products of all kinds of everyday items for which there is a genuine/original. Anyone buy cheap cola instead of coke because it's almost as good for half the price?

    At the end of the day, some people are die hatd lego purists (I am to an extent) and will never buy these but some like myself will use these 'stand ins' for the time being.
    dougtsJern92
  • TigerMothTigerMoth Member Posts: 2,343
    nhyone said:

    The court accepted point 1 and rejected point 2.
    I think that's more or less what you'd expect. The point about removing the labelling from the studs is that you then can't tell whether it's a photograph of a LEGO set or a LEPIN one - even if it started life with TLG. Mind you, that still leaves the question of the backgrounds to the pictures.

    It might also be significant that this is the time when the LEPIN logo seems to have changed with the size and positioning of the two scripts being reversed.

    I haven't seen that ruling, but if the Chinese courts have already ruled that assembled products aren't subject to copyright - which is what I've been saying for months - then LEPIN are probably going to be able to continue producing the iconic sets that have brought them notoriety, although perhaps slightly differently. Unfortunately, that's the bit most people want to see come to an end.

    Except...

    The case against Coko that's probably better known is this one:

    http://www.chinaipmagazine.com/en/journal-show.asp?id=557

    I'm wondering whether that has more bearing on the new case. It relates to copyrights of individual pieces - some claims were upheld and some weren't. Things like the modulars tend to contain new pieces - that are therefore protected by the 25-year rule. Perhaps that's the basis of TLG's case. There might be some evidence for that because some of the early LEPIN sets had part substitutions - although that didn't quite make sense because Cafe Corner had older, unprotected, parrots replace with newer, protected, owls.

    That would be more awkward for LEPIN because, if they're trying to produce identical products but are prohibited from making the detailing pieces, they're no longer going to be identical. However, that didn't stop them with the earlier sets. If they are, or intend, using TLG sets simply as a source of good models, then detail changes aren't going to make too much difference if they've already managed to establish a name for themselves.
  • thehornedratthehornedrat Member Posts: 86
    edited September 2016
    I'm very pleased people's sentiment of Lepin is changing. 10-15 pages ago, people were upset and pissed (Denial and anger phase). Now people are in the accepting phase. I think LEGO realised this and needed to act quickly, as LEPIN's reputation is improving, and going by other forums, the Asian market is looking more and more like a lost cause, since these clone companies are becoming increasingly dominant.
    Everything is going as I foreseen.
    It is a pleasure to be able to get these good quality sets for cheap.

    I wonder how the people over at Brickpicker feel about Lepin. Likely not very pleased.

    For LEGO supporters (and cynically jaded previous lovers of LEGO like me), there may be hope for TLG against LEPIN, as there has been a precedent: In 2002, Lego sued the CoCo Toy Company in Beijing for copyright infringement over its "Coko bricks" product. CoCo was ordered to cease manufacture of the products, publish a formal apology and pay damages.

    Lets see how well connected Lepin is, in a year from now. Not sure how the Chinese Courts rule in respect to precedents.

    ^ indeed, Lunchietey, just go here to see more pictures of Lepin, reviews and their quality. Look how many likes the posts are getting, especially from westerners! https://www.facebook.com/ShopofNinjaBricks

  • thehornedratthehornedrat Member Posts: 86
    edited September 2016
    Just quickly read that article Tigermoth. If LEGO argues in terms of artistic quality which they did during this case, i think they may have a good chance, even with respect to LEPIN substituting the bricks. I lol'd at Coco's excuse in the following paragraph.

    I quote this part:
    "3. Thirty-three toy blocks possess characteristics of originality and artistic quality to which Interlego’s toy blocks are substantially similar. These toy blocks possess characteristics of originality and artistic quality, meet the requirements for works of applied art and therefore can be protected as works of applied art. Coko’s toy blocks are substantially similar to these 33 toy blocks and therefore infringed copyright of these toy blocks."

    Now, you compare, instead of 33 bricks, but 2000-3000 bricks, gee, they look the same yes? I'll be shocked if this isnt a slam dunk for LEGO. To me, as an AFOL and avid collector, LEGO works, i mean toys, are beautiful crafted works of art also, don't you all agree? Why else would you display them after you build them, yes? Like artwork.

    Essentially, eventhough patents on individual bricks have expired, if you put enough of them together, such that they resemble a product that passes the test of having 'artistic quality', that is considered infringement. (psst, the chinese wouldnt want outsiders to make copies of their craftwork too, you know, seen how good their traditional works of art can be?)

  • datsunrobbiedatsunrobbie West Haven , CTMember Posts: 1,701
    Just quickly read that article Tigermoth. If LEGO argues in terms of artistic quality which they did during this case, i think they may have a good chance, even with respect to LEPIN substituting the bricks. I lol'd at Coco's excuse in the following paragraph.

    I quote this part:
    "3. Thirty-three toy blocks possess characteristics of originality and artistic quality to which Interlego’s toy blocks are substantially similar. These toy blocks possess characteristics of originality and artistic quality, meet the requirements for works of applied art and therefore can be protected as works of applied art. Coko’s toy blocks are substantially similar to these 33 toy blocks and therefore infringed copyright of these toy blocks."

    Essentially, eventhough patents on individual bricks have expired, if you put enough of them together, such that they resemble a product that passes the test of having 'artistic quality', that is considered infringement. (psst, the chinese wouldnt want outsiders to make copies of their craftwork too, you know, seen how good their traditional works of art can be?)

    I'm not a lawyer, but I'm pretty sure they were referring to 33 individual bricks that were either printed, like Octan signs, or special molds like Bionicle masks.   
  • ericbericb Member Posts: 92
    @Lunchietey

    LEGO could definitely lose money from the sale of an imitation of a retired set.  If a consumer purchases an imitation set and is satisfied with the quality and/or price, it may persuade them to always choose the imitation over the genuine article in the future.

  • TigerMothTigerMoth Member Posts: 2,343

    Essentially, eventhough patents on individual bricks have expired
    But they haven't. If TLG produce a new shape of brick tomorrow, then it's protected until 2041. The snag is, of course, that the system as a whole relies on everything being compatible from day dot, and most pieces are that old. A modular, for examples, relies of brick and plates that date back to the 50s and 60s. If TLG attempted to change that, then it would effectively a whole new product - and ironically, the clones would continue produce those classic bricks, whereas TLG wouldn't! If you think some pieces haven't been around that long, then you might be surprised if you looked them up - or, perhaps, the pieces from which they are derived.

    Of course, it's not a particular big deal to redesign a piece so that it doesn't infringe - the Chinese courts seem to have a very high bar when it comes to whether something is the same or just similar. The question is then whether purchasers would still be interested.
    datsunrobbie said:

    I'm not a lawyer, but I'm pretty sure they were referring to 33 individual bricks that were either printed, like Octan signs, or special molds like Bionicle masks. 
    Part of the judgement was that the moulds should be destroyed; there was nothing about anything used for prints. TLG are constantly drip-feeding us with new pieces, partly I suspect, so that new sets can't be built from old collections, but the point is that they're protected. If you go after a manufacturer on the basis of one or two pieces that are crucial to the design of a particular set, then you effectively stop them making that set, even if it can worked around.
    ericb said:

    LEGO could definitely lose money from the sale of an imitation of a retired set.  If a consumer purchases an imitation set and is satisfied with the quality and/or price, it may persuade them to always choose the imitation over the genuine article in the future.
    Some people actually in Asia are suggesting TLG stand less chance of dominating that market, essentially for that reason.
  • thehornedratthehornedrat Member Posts: 86
    edited September 2016
    I got that, Datsunrobbie, rather, I was thinking of lego arguing in context of the whole model itself, and not just the individual bricks. The way I read it, they didnt cry patent infringement (because Coco was apparently granted patent protection for the bricks in China), but rather copying of artwork, leading to copyright infringement. Lego argued in terms of the design (ie artwork) of the individual bricks themselves.

    " In this case, Interlego’s copyright is a prior legal right since Interlego had enjoyed the copyright before Coko was granted patent right for the design. Whether or not Coko was granted patent right for design in China, Coko still infringed upon the copyright of Interlego if Coko’s toy blocks are deemed substantially similar to those of Interlego’s."

    I suppose the question now would be, are whole models copyrightable then, even as artwork? Even when some unique parts are substituted for generic looking ones?
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,444
    ericb said:
    @Lunchietey

    LEGO could definitely lose money from the sale of an imitation of a retired set.  If a consumer purchases an imitation set and is satisfied with the quality and/or price, it may persuade them to always choose the imitation over the genuine article in the future.

    No, I rather have a BMW than a BWM.
    SprinkleOtter
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,444
    ericb said:
    @AustinPowers and @Lunchietey

    There is no need to defend your plans to purchase imitation LEGO sets.  No one cares.
    Exactly, I don't care. I have an opinion, but I do not care what you do with your money. To me, if one is trying to defend or make excuses for buying Lepin products, deep down there is a part of them that think that is wrong. These are probably the same people that illegally download movies or software like Photoshop. It is ok though, I am not judging you, you do what you have to do :) 
    dougtsSprinkleOtter
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,444
    I want to be perfectly clear, I am not perfect; I have driven over the speed limit a time or two and have spit on the sidewalk, which in some places in the US is illegal, so I am.not judging anyone gor buying Lepin, but that doesn't mean that I can't have an opinion. 
    xwingpilotdougtsSprinkleOttermadforLEGOcatwrangler
  • nhyonenhyone Member Posts: 145
    edited September 2016
    TigerMoth said:

    The case against Coko that's probably better known is this one:

    http://www.chinaipmagazine.com/en/journal-show.asp?id=557

    I made a mistake, it is Cogo, not Coco.

    The ruling, in Chinese, can be found here: http://www.110.com/panli/panli_42859594.html

    I may have made a mistake that TLG claimed the final product is a work-of-art. Rather, TLG claims the individual bricks are work-of-art and hence are subjected to Copyright protection. People who are proficient in Chinese please help here. :-)

    This is a 2011 ruling and is an appeal from a 2009 case (I did not search for it). TLG re-appealed point 2 again and was heard in a 2013 case, again, in Chinese: http://www.chinacourt.org/article/detail/2014/01/id/1209663.shtml

    Again, this one has two points:

    1. Are individual bricks work-of-art? No.

    2. Does the non work-of-art ruling contradict an earlier ruling? [Which one, not specified.] Again, no.

    TLG did not invoke its patents for this case.

    TLG did not win this case, that's why no one knew about it. :-)
  • RecceRecce Tiny Little Red DotMember Posts: 923
    Pitfall69 said:
    Exactly, I don't care. I have an opinion, but I do not care what you do with your money. To me, if one is trying to defend or make excuses for buying Lepin products, deep down there is a part of them that think that is wrong. These are probably the same people that illegally download movies or software like Photoshop. It is ok though, I am not judging you, you do what you have to do :) 
    ericb said:
    @AustinPowers and @Lunchietey

    There is no need to defend your plans to purchase imitation LEGO sets.  No one cares.
    I like how you guys care enough to specifically comment that you don't care, so now we really know you guys don't really care and we can just move on and discuss the matter at hand.


  • TigerMothTigerMoth Member Posts: 2,343
    Recce said:

    I like how you guys care enough to specifically comment that you don't care, so now we really know you guys don't really care and we can just move on and discuss the matter at hand
    Reading that sentence was almost as bad as reading the Chinese legalese!
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 19,834
    Maybe Lego will need to design new parts that are essential to the overall look of new modulars and still compatible with old parts.
    catwrangler
  • nhyonenhyone Member Posts: 145
    edited September 2016
    I found the original case (http://studyhappy.blog.163.com/blog/static/17876788920111101033400/). I link to this rather than the original Chinese court webpage because that disallows the text to be copied. The date is 2010, not 2009, though.

    To summarize:
    1. TLG brought legal actions against the makers of COGO in 2009 using the two above mentioned points. It won one and lost one.

    2. TLG appealed with new evidence and was heard in 2011. The court upheld the earlier decision.

    3. TLG appealed again, citing wrong judgement, and was heard in 2013. The court dismissed the re-trial.

    On reading the 2013 ruling carefully, it appears the work-of-art ruling was based on the 1999 case -- the 53 pieces under contention. 33 of them met the criteria for "work-of-art" and are protected.
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 14,293
    Pitfall69 said:
    ericb said:
    ...it may persuade them to always choose the imitation over the genuine article in the future.

    No, I rather have a BMW than a BWM.
    What about a Pinto over a Lepinto?  

    (Actually, neither is desirable.)
    SprinkleOtterPitfall69pharmjod
  • monkeyhangermonkeyhanger Member Posts: 3,013
    I'm surprised Disney haven't weighed in with their own lawsuits when Lepin and Co are selling a collection of bricks with the intention of making a plastic bricks representation of a Star Wars ship commercially available, and calling it as such by its copyrighted name when you search for it. Selling that collection of bricks with the accompanying manual confirms their intent for what the collection of bricks is meant to become when assembled in the way the manual provides instructions for.

    These Lepin sets would be hard to find if they weren't actually called "Millenium Falcon" or "Death Star", but instead were called "Century Pigeon" or "Spacestation of Doom" etc.
  • datsunrobbiedatsunrobbie West Haven , CTMember Posts: 1,701
    SumoLego said:
    Pitfall69 said:
    ericb said:
    ...it may persuade them to always choose the imitation over the genuine article in the future.

    No, I rather have a BMW than a BWM.
    What about a Pinto over a Lepinto?  

    (Actually, neither is desirable.)
    I'd take the Lepinto - easier to reassemble when it explodes :)
    Pitfall69
  • TigerMothTigerMoth Member Posts: 2,343

    These Lepin sets would be hard to find if they weren't actually called "Millenium Falcon" or "Death Star", but instead were called "Century Pigeon" or "Spacestation of Doom" etc.
    Only if you're a Westerner - and I don't suppose that the relatively small numbers sold here are perceived as being the real problem.

    Most people shop  by going to a retailer's site and searching by brand - anything else turns up too much that's not relevant. Furthermore, whilst the Star Wars sets may be named in the familar way, others are not - but presumably based on local knowledge of the markets, LEPIN still expect them to sell.

    Having said that, I suspect that Disney haven't got much to gain. If a LEPIN set is sold instead of a LEGO set, then it's a lost sale. If Disney's IP is used, sure they don't get the licence fee, but they probably wouldn't get in anyway; the people that lose out are their other licensees. Curiously, there may be grounds for TLG to sue Disney (on the basis that if they're bought exclusivity, they're not getting it), but I don't think I can see that happening either.
  • datsunrobbiedatsunrobbie West Haven , CTMember Posts: 1,701
    I can think of two easy ways to identify sets without using pictures or swapping names. To me they seem obvious, so they probably would not withstand legal challenges.

    Last time I checked, UPC codes were assigned by manufacturers, with 5 digits assigned to the vendor (73419=LEGO,18569=Lepin) and 5 digits assigned by the vendor to the specific item. Easy enough to use the same 5 digits for "item" that LEGO uses for either the UPC on their corresponding set or the LEGO set number, and then just sell bags of bulk bricks. I don't know if using the same item number could be made into an infringement claim, that's something lawyers would have to figure out.

    There are thousands of ads for AC adapters and other accessories that are listed as "compatible with product X", where X is a specific model of camera, tablet, or whatever. Do the manufacturers of these accessories have to pay the maker of the original item anything for that? If not, bulk bags labeled "replacement parts for LEGO xxxxx" would be another way around. Sleazy, but up to lawyers to figure out whether or not it is legal.

    LEGO's prior wins on copyright appear to be for individual bricks, so Lepin would not be able to clone some newer pieces, but there does seem to be a bit of wiggle room between similar and infringing in the previous cases.
  • BobflipBobflip Member Posts: 626
    edited September 2016
    There's also a lot of hypocrisy in this thread. Basically everyone in the world at some time or another buys 'off brand' products of all kinds of everyday items for which there is a genuine/original. Anyone buy cheap cola instead of coke because it's almost as good for half the price?

    Interesting point on the cola - I've recently started drinking the Aldi one when I can. It tastes close enough, cheaper, and I realised I would much prefer to buy theirs because of the atrocities that Coke commit. Always said 'hate the company, love the drink'.


    Not entirely related to this matter, but thought I'd mention it!
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,444
    SumoLego said:
    Pitfall69 said:
    ericb said:
    ...it may persuade them to always choose the imitation over the genuine article in the future.

    No, I rather have a BMW than a BWM.
    What about a Pinto over a Lepinto?  

    (Actually, neither is desirable.)
    SumoLego said:
    Pitfall69 said:
    ericb said:
    ...it may persuade them to always choose the imitation over the genuine article in the future.

    No, I rather have a BMW than a BWM.
    What about a Pinto over a Lepinto?  

    (Actually, neither is desirable.)
    I'd take the Lepinto - easier to reassemble when it explodes :)
    We had a Pinto when I was 5 years old. My parents are here right now and I said "What were you thinking?" My dad interjects and said "I had a Gremlin!!!" 

    *faceplam
    SumoLego
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