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LEGO fight Against Chinese counterfeit LEGO

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Comments

  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,515
    alaskaguy said:
    OK - status quo. Do nothing different and wait for different results.
    Or do as people tend to do now - publish pictures from some angles but don't publish LDD files for anonymous download.
    I didn't suggest that it would change anything in terms of fakes.  I was suggesting that Lego may as well stop giving them money.
    LEGO pulling out competely and stopping all genuine product entering China gives Lepin complete freedom within China, they don't even have to complete with the genuine article any more.
    alaskaguy said:
    All in all, you're right. There is absolutely nothing that can or should be done. Better to just sit back, do nothing practical, and wait for change.
    There are things that can be done, such as re-releasing retired sets - like they are now doing. For current sets it is much harder. If people want cheap fakes, there is little to stop them buying and importing them. However, most casual buyers probably don't know of Lepin. Advertising Lepin to them in every LEGO set as a cheap source of fake product would make Lepin a household name.

    stluxdmcc0catwrangler
  • ShibShib UKMember Posts: 5,113
    Is anyone else getting xefan flashbacks here ;-)
    stluxpharmjodAndyPolcatwrangler
  • CyberdragonCyberdragon Maryland, U.S.AMember Posts: 368
    edited November 2017
    You don't mention the infringing brand name(s), you say the product is guaranteed genuine high quality and not counterfeit. Don't even try to convince them not to buy the counterfeit, just post it as a warning to scare people of anything that tries to copy it. I have a fancy shampoo with an anti-counterfeit warning, so it is something companies do.

    Something like this on the box:

    "This product is a genuine LEGO product and its quality is guaranteed. If this product is being sold under any other name it is counterfeit and its quality cannot be assured."
  • pharmjodpharmjod 1,170 miles to Wall Drug, USAMember Posts: 2,871
    Shib said:
    Is anyone else getting xefan flashbacks here ;-)
    Now we need @TigerMoth back
    flordAndyPolJohnyk668catwranglerBumblepantsgmonkey76
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,515

    "This product is a genuine LEGO product and its quality is guaranteed. If this product is being sold under any other name it is counterfeit and its quality cannot be assured."
    What is the point of that? It won't be seen if people are buying the fake. What does quality mean - is it to do with safety of the parts (this is already done through safety standards) or quality of the model and design? They would need to define what is meant by product, as legal clone companies could take issue with this. If product means the part design then they are not counterfeit if sold under clone names, for example. Also I don't think anyone buys a Lepin set and thinks they are buying LEGO, so the warning is rather pointless.
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,795
    LEGO pulling out of China would be entirely counter-productive. The biggest reason fakes are so prolific in China is that there is demand for LEGO in those markets that they want to take advantage of. And the biggest reason why LEGO is in China themselves is so that THEY can better satisfy that demand themselves and improve their market share in the process. Pulling their own production and retail presence out of China wouldn't in any way set the knock-offs back — on the contrary, it would be effectively relinquishing all of that built-up demand to whoever wants it.

    It's not like knock-offs depend on the genuine article being produced locally to do what they do. Long before LEGO had plants in China, Chinese companies were making knock-off Bionicle sets. And bear in mind that at that time, most Bionicle parts were being made in Billund because they were among the most technically demanding parts for the company to manufacture! Compared to that, copying most of the types of parts used in Creator Expert sets is downright simple.
    stlux
  • PapaBearPapaBear East CoastMember Posts: 395
    edited November 2017
    ^So Chinese companies started counterfeiting LEGO by starting with the hardest parts to make?  That sounds like a stretch.  You sure TLG didn't secretly try to negotiate a plant in China to make those parts and then got screwed when an agreement wasn't met?  Whether it was that or China somehow hacked the designs to the equipment, doesn't matter.  Companies need to protect themselves.

    China is never going to let TLG get big in their country.  Just like Google got pushed out and just like Apple is getting pushed out now.  They will copy the tactics and expertise of these companies and then start their own companies to sell to their own people.  It's really f****** moronic to even assume you could get a significant market share in China.  It's a shortsighted attempt to make a quick buck.  Besides Hong Kong and coastal China, how many Chinese do you really think can afford LEGO over other companies that make products for 1/4 the price?

    TLG should have invested their manufacturing in Europe or America.  They brought this problem on themselves whether you want to believe that or not.  They also eliminated the ethical argument by doing so.  Oh, so you want to disregard investing in jobs for your own people because it saves you money?  Well you can't blame people that want to buy from Chinese companies to save money then.
    alaskaguy
  • LyichirLyichir United StatesMember Posts: 708
    PapaBear said:
    ^So Chinese companies started counterfeiting LEGO by starting with the hardest parts to make?  That sounds like a stretch.  You sure TLG didn't secretly try to negotiate a plant in China to make those parts and then got screwed when an agreement wasn't met?  Whether it was that or China somehow hacked the designs to the equipment, doesn't matter.  Companies need to protect themselves.

    China is never going to let TLG get big in their country.  Just like Google got pushed out and just like Apple is getting pushed out now.  They will copy the tactics and expertise of these companies and then start their own companies to sell to their own people.  It's really f****** moronic to even assume you could get a significant market share in China.  It's a shortsighted attempt to make a quick buck.  Besides Hong Kong and coastal China, how many Chinese do you really think can afford LEGO over other companies that make products for 1/4 the price?

    TLG should have invested their manufacturing in Europe or America.  They brought this problem on themselves whether you want to believe that or not.  They also eliminated the ethical argument by doing so.  Oh, so you want to disregard investing in jobs for your own people because it saves you money?  Well you can't blame people that want to buy from Chinese companies to save money then.
    Maybe Lego makes Mega Bloks too! When you go down that road of conspiratorial thinking, where do you stop?

    The fact is that it's not hard for other companies to copy Lego when they steal designs and cut corners on quality and service. That is how bootlegs work across pretty much every consumer product industry on the planet. You do not need to resort to absurd conspiracy theories to explain companies like Lepin, let alone earlier bootleggers.
    stlux
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,515
    PapaBear said:

    TLG should have invested their manufacturing in Europe or America. 
    They have made massive recent investments in Hungary and Czech Republic.
    Aanchir
  • PapaBearPapaBear East CoastMember Posts: 395
    Lyichir said:

    Maybe Lego makes Mega Bloks too! When you go down that road of conspiratorial thinking, where do you stop?

    The fact is that it's not hard for other companies to copy Lego when they steal designs and cut corners on quality and service. That is how bootlegs work across pretty much every consumer product industry on the planet. You do not need to resort to absurd conspiracy theories to explain companies like Lepin, let alone earlier bootleggers.
    What does "Maybe Lego makes Mega Bloks too!" even mean exactly?  I just don't follow your point.  Lol, and how is me making valid points about China pushing out Google and Apple resorting to conspiracy theories?  I just have to laugh at what you wrote because calling someone a conspiracy theorist is really just dismissing what they say by trying to label them as crazy without addressing any points they made which can be validated by many other respectable news sources.

    CCC said:
    PapaBear said:

    TLG should have invested their manufacturing in Europe or America. 
    They have made massive recent investments in Hungary and Czech Republic.
    Great!  I'm glad to hear it and a truly applaud them for that.
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,795
    PapaBear said:
    ^So Chinese companies started counterfeiting LEGO by starting with the hardest parts to make?
    No. They didn't START by copying Bionicle parts. China had already been copying other LEGO parts since the 90s, if not longer.

    Here's a picture of Enlighten sets, uploaded to Brickshelf in 2001:
    http://www.brickshelf.com/gallery/kolee/Bootleg/bootleglego.jpg

    Here are some comparisons between LEGO sets and their Enlighten "Brick"/"Shifty" counterparts (real helpful of them to label some of them that way!), uploaded in 2003:
    http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?f=57181
    http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?f=57185
    http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?f=57182

    Eastern European LEGO knock-offs go even further back. I only bring up the Bionicle parts in particular because they're clinching proof that knock-off manufacturers don't need any sort of backdoor access to copy the intricacies of LEGO molds, and the idea that they do is blatant ignorance. The reason bootleggers copy existing products is because it's cheap and easy with or without insider knowledge, not because they're too stupid to understand the basics of molding plastic pellets into fun shapes.

    Are you really so clueless that you think Chinese LEGO knock-offs didn't exist before made-in-China LEGO parts were a thing? Or are you still going to cling to unsubstantiated hypotheses that there were secret plans for Chinese-made LEGO parts decades earlier that fell through? Either way, the actual known facts tell a clear story, and that's that knock-off manufacturers have been copying LEGO parts since long before LEGO had their own plants in their backyard. What HAS changed in Asia in the past decade is that genuine LEGO products have seen double-digit year-on-year sales growth. So forgive me for not embracing your irrational pessimism and paranoia about LEGO's chances in China.
  • PapaBearPapaBear East CoastMember Posts: 395
    I don't really consider Enlighten bricks to be good enough knock offs for enough people to substitute it for a good portion of their LEGO purchases.  I would have had no access to Enlighten until recently and would never consider buying it even now.

    If Bionicle sets were so  "technically demanding" as you put it, I doubt the counterfeiters just eyeballed the designs.  There is massive amounts of evidence that Chinese companies have been hacking American and European companies to steal their secrets for a long time.  I guess you think LEGO is immune to these attempts.  The fact that Lepin sends out the exact building instructions as LEGO means they can't do everything on their own.  Even if manufacturing basic blocks is easy, China would want to see exactly how they do it.  They could copy the parts just by studying the parts themselves, but China always wants to know the intricacies of the things they copy and how do replicate them exactly.

    Putting LEGO's manufacturing in China will only speed up the process of counterfeiting.  China's presidents have stated that the number one goal in the country is to create jobs, which is why it is easy enough to negotiate low wage worker jobs for foreign companies.  However, they have a habit of edging those companies out after enough time is passed.  It really is the only smart economical option as time goes on.  Why continue to offer low paid workers to foreign companies when your consumer base is growing, you have enough manufacturing expertise, and environments in the country and economy start to allow you to produce things yourself without any outsider help?  Why do you REALLY think LEGO will be any different than other companies that have entered China and failed?

    Also, the name calling and hate some people on this forum seem to have (especially you @Aanchir) towards each other really puts a bad taste in my mouth about LEGO overall. 
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 11,740
    alaskaguy said:
    Has that eliminated the problem?
    I would recommend more fiber.
    mampepin
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,515
    ^^ Creating jobs in your own country as a priority is not limited to China. Most US presidents want this too, as do most other leaders. Similarly with hacking, western companies and governments are similar but call this "intelligence".
  • PapaBearPapaBear East CoastMember Posts: 395
    I know US presidents want jobs.  I heard Trump talk about creating jobs for a long time.  For a country like China that has so many people, they are more willing to accept lower standards for their workers in order to get more jobs.  As China continues to advance and they become more consumerist, I doubt they will want all these other foreign companies in their country when they can just replace them with their own companies, hence creating more jobs for their people.  That is really the only point I am trying to emphasize.

    Honestly, I don't really know why this thread is even open still.  TLG pretty much lost their fight against counterfeits and they were never going to win.  I'm partly sad over that, but you can't change the circumstances we live in.  The comments I have been reading seem to be simplifying China as just another market to enter for TLG.  I really don't like seeing people simplified as bags of money to acquire.  Is that what I am too?  It makes me feel a lot less like a fan of the hobby.  Yes, what China is doing is unethical in our eyes, but TLG should have known what they were getting into.

    "Oh, so China has been stealing our IP and copying our products?"
    "Well, let's build more factories there to save a lot of money and then try to capture a lot of their demand for construction toys."

    How is this going to pay off in the long run?  God forbid, they get in a disagreement with each other and then all that expensive equipment and those factories get trapped in China forever.
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,515
    Hmmmm "America First"?

    Of course companies want to move into new regions where there is untapped market. China's middle classes are rapidly growing, much faster than in US/EU. LEGO want to sell to them, especially as US and EU sales are fairly stagnant now.
  • PapaBearPapaBear East CoastMember Posts: 395
    edited November 2017
    What about Australia?

    Of course companies want to get into regions that are growing the most.  Those regions also mainly want their own companies to sell to their people and China specifically is notorious for counterfeiting products.  IMO, TLG is stupid for trying to get into a market that will edge them out like Google and Amazon.  Apple and Tesla are also having troubles.
     
    CCC said:
    Hmmmm "America First"?

    Kinda like what the UK said to the EU?
  • ShibShib UKMember Posts: 5,113
    pharmjod said:
    Shib said:
    Is anyone else getting xefan flashbacks here ;-)
    Now we need @TigerMoth back
    Think that’s happened too now :-P
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,515
    Australia has a population of about 24m and already has relatively high Lego sales albeit through toy stores and supermarkets rather than a dedicated brand store. China has about 300m in the middle classes alone now. The reasons for expanding into China are clear.
    SumoLegoMAGNINOMINISUMBRA
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,515
    edited November 2017


    I received my Alien figure yesterday, so might as well put the pics here. The moulding is worse than Lego's, there are visible seams but these can and have now been removed with a blade. However the detail in moulding is very good. The neck bracket that holds the tail is probably too thick, meaning the head has less clutch than it should but it stays on fine. The head cannot really turn. There is a gap between tail and torso that widens from top to bottom. The printing is superb. It isn't perfectly centred though (just like Lego). The print density and colour easily matches Lego quality but they surpass Lego in the continuity of the print. The torso and legs come assembled so I assume they print the pair together. This means no gap in print between the torso and legs, a very common flaw with official Lego. Hand and feet clutch is as per Lego but the back holes in the legs are too small and clutch is way too strong. This seems to be a problem with many knock offs I get, some so tight you cannot even sit them on studs.

    For a figure Lego will probably never do, and so won't be available officially, I'm very happy with this one. Slight worse moulding but better prints. It will like great next to the Arvo Bros model next time I get that one out.
    mafon
  • PapaBearPapaBear East CoastMember Posts: 395
    CCC said:
    Australia has a population of about 24m and already has relatively high Lego sales albeit through toy stores and supermarkets rather than a dedicated brand store. China has about 300m in the middle classes alone now. The reasons for expanding into China are clear.
    China has more people outside those classes that can not afford LEGO or will always opt for Lepin instead.  Wanting to expand into China and expanding into China are two different things.
  • MynattMynatt OH/NYMember Posts: 565
    Sorry if this has already been mentioned here as I can’t say I’m too good about keeping up with this thread but today I was very suprised to have received a new add on an app. (Cropped image)


  • gantaratgantarat bangkok,thailandMember Posts: 35
    It is illegal in The USA ?


  • willobee498willobee498 CanadalandMember Posts: 349
    Was in a museum at a gladiator exhibit last week, and in the gift shop they had knock-off Lego gladiator minifigs for sale. You'd think a museum of all things would care a bit more about authenticity.
  • PapaBearPapaBear East CoastMember Posts: 395
    ^^ I saw that on YouTube as well.  That store is so expensive for Lepin sets and is milking tourists that don't know better.

    Unfortunately, this is the double edged sword of capitalism.  LEGO can't stop Lepin and they can't get into China's market without letting Lepin in theirs.  Expect this to continue until they get forced out of China.
  • bricknationbricknation Member Posts: 674
    Meanwhile in Manchester, UK about 2 minutes walk from the LEGO store:




    To be able to trade there they must have a street vendor licence from city council. 
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,515
    Fake brickwarriors parts too.
  • bricknationbricknation Member Posts: 674
    ^ and since they paid for the permit to trade one could say that Manchester City Council profits from counterfeit unlicensed merchandise. There was another seller with fake elf on the shelf toys.
  • HanzoHanzo VAMember Posts: 607
    I don't know if the UK is different but the people that approve vendor permits aren't the ones that ask or care what you're selling. 
    KingAlanI
  • Coolguy5000Coolguy5000 Ireland Member Posts: 1,514
    Sorry eveyone but my purist self is crippled at this Tony stark!

    catwrangler
  • VenunderVenunder Nottingham, UK.Member Posts: 2,461
    ^ Surely that is George Michael? :)
    andheSwitchfoot55catwranglergmonkey76stevemackKerre
  • flordflord CanadaMember Posts: 667
    And Mongul needs to be a big fig. My inner early-90s comics nerd is enraged.
  • AustinPowersAustinPowers GermanyMember Posts: 278
    "This product is a genuine LEGO product and its quality is guaranteed. If this product is being sold under any other name it is counterfeit and its quality cannot be assured."
    This sounds just as useful as the copyright notices on genuine DVDs/BluRays that no one cares about and everyone is annoyed by, because it is condescending towards the buyer who shilled out his own money to buy a legal product and is then pre-criminalized in that he is reminded of what he must not to - and in 99.9 percent of the cases never intended to do anyway. Plus, as with Lepin, the counterfeit products usually don't have such notices on them and people buying these fakes don't care anyway.
    KingAlanI
  • MAGNINOMINISUMBRAMAGNINOMINISUMBRA Member Posts: 977
    We examined potential industrial espionage years (and many pages) ago.  Lepin manufacture parts that are near exact copies of the parts TLG produces. This is where any similarity ends.  Side by side examination of each companies parts reveals that the overwhelming majority have moulding pips in different locations which shows that the moulds that produce each companies parts are ENTIRELY different.  Lepin moulds are NOT the same as TLG moulds. They have not copied TLG's engineering.
      What we CAN confirm is that LEPIN do produce sets that are generally an EXACT copy of TLG designs, LEPIN deliberately design both their own logo and that of each of their individual lines to appear similar or same to TLG designs and produce sets based on unpurchased third party intellectual property.

    Reading of this entire thread should be required before posting so users can be sure they're selecting the correct deceased equine to lash....
    AanchirFizyxcatwrangler
  • MAGNINOMINISUMBRAMAGNINOMINISUMBRA Member Posts: 977
    Aanchir said:
    SNIP
    A climate where any great work you do will be taken from you unless you dedicate exponentially more effort to protecting it is toxic to the spirit of creation.
    SNIP
    Nothing to add here except to say @Aanchir, this is one of the most succinct and eloquent sentences I've read in a LONG time!  

    I MAY need to appropriate it for my own use in the future without crediting the original author...
    PapaBear
  • PapaBearPapaBear East CoastMember Posts: 395
    ^^ I thought the dips in the bricks were due to the fact that Lepin uses cold running injection molding instead of hot running.
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,515
    edited December 2017
    Yes, BELA were copying things exactly, just changing the logo and the information panel ...



    KingAlanI
  • dmcc0dmcc0 Nae far fae AberdeenMember Posts: 672
    ^ and added an extra piece!
    SumoLegoPapaBearJern92mafonandhe
  • zmarkellazmarkella UKMember Posts: 48
    That headline is rather misleading - the case was against two companies making minidoll knock-offs, which I assume are still under copyright (having only been introduced 5 years ago)
  • BacchusBacchus NetherlandsMember Posts: 13
    It's not just the minidolls but also the packaging.
    This is their first win after being granted the "well-known trademark" label in a case earlier this year.
    A great legal precedent against Lepin since their packaging is also mostly a carbon copy of the ones LEGO used/uses.
    AanchirLyichir
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,515
    zmarkella said:
    That headline is rather misleading - the case was against two companies making minidoll knock-offs, which I assume are still under copyright (having only been introduced 5 years ago)
    It is not just about the figures (minidolls).

    The court also decided that Lego is protected under Chinese “anti-unfair competition law” for “the distinctive and unique appearance of certain decorative aspects of its packaging across particular product lines (in this case, LEGO Friends)”
    :
    :
    They will now have to stop copying Lego’s packaging and logos, it said.

    It is not clear whether they have made a ruling based on the contents of the sets though - so whether the ruling is still in place if they changed the packaging and logo style.
  • SquirrelArmySquirrelArmy UKMember Posts: 13
    When Lepin resellers and other brick makers ship their products abroad they tend to do so in different packaging in order to avoid problems in customs. Some even send instructions separately too. 

    Any company can make a brick that is compatible with Lego, if Lepin change their packaging and do more with the instructions then there won’t be anything stopping them. 

    The best way to stop the imitation copies is to get the prices down for the genuine article. Lego do use Chinese manufacturing plants now so they have access to the cheap labour Lepin etc have. The only big costs they have are design and licensing. To offset those costs they need to produce more sets spreading out the price paid for development. 
  • zmarkellazmarkella UKMember Posts: 48
    The best way to stop the imitation copies is to get the prices down for the genuine article.
    That would be next to impossible to do. Have you seen the Lepin prices? The new Falcon for £160 vs Lego's £650. Not to mention that the genuine article is still not available.
  • SquirrelArmySquirrelArmy UKMember Posts: 13
    zmarkella said:
    The best way to stop the imitation copies is to get the prices down for the genuine article.
    That would be next to impossible to do. Have you seen the Lepin prices? The new Falcon for £160 vs Lego's £650. Not to mention that the genuine article is still not available.
    That’s a price difference of nearly £500. That can’t all be on development and licensing. There will be a large portion of quality control during manufacturing to add but otherwise there’s not much difference in brick quality. 

    I know Lego would never match the price of the Chinese produced bricks but a 30% reduction would certainly make the product more affordable to a larger market. 
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,795
    When Lepin resellers and other brick makers ship their products abroad they tend to do so in different packaging in order to avoid problems in customs. Some even send instructions separately too.
    True, but that again raises the question of how many Lepin sales are online exports like that and how many are sold in physical marketplaces. Even ruling against Lepin's ability to sell products in look-alike boxes could potentially put a considerable dent in their business.

    Also, while any company can produce a "compatible with leading brands" brick product, plenty of specific LEGO parts are under IP protections like patent or copyright (like the aforementioned mini-doll), so the idea that Lepin could continue selling exact copies of whatever LEGO products they choose without any legal repercussions is perhaps overly optimistic on their part.

    Just because LEGO is now manufacturing in China doesn't mean that they are in any position to bring their operating costs down to the same level as their less scrupulous competitors. A brand like Lepin that minimizes their development costs by stealing intellectual property is probably also cutting costs in other ways that a company under as much global scrutiny as the LEGO Group couldn't get away with.
    LyichirKingAlanI
  • BobflipBobflip Member Posts: 462
    Packaging-wise, Lepin often ship without any packaging at all.
    zmarkella said:
    The best way to stop the imitation copies is to get the prices down for the genuine article.
    That would be next to impossible to do. Have you seen the Lepin prices? The new Falcon for £160 vs Lego's £650. Not to mention that the genuine article is still not available.
    That’s a price difference of nearly £500. That can’t all be on development and licensing. There will be a large portion of quality control during manufacturing to add but otherwise there’s not much difference in brick quality. 

    I know Lego would never match the price of the Chinese produced bricks but a 30% reduction would certainly make the product more affordable to a larger market. 
    Lepin's bricks are definitely close, but not exactly there. Maybe 90%ish. With the rule of diminishing returns though, I wonder how much that last 10% would cost.
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,515
    I don't think it matters how they ship, it is how they advertise that matters. In most cases, Lepin isn't doing the shipping. Most sales are done through resellers.
  • zmarkellazmarkella UKMember Posts: 48
    To avoid international customs' scrutiny, Lepin resellers ship without packaging in most cases. For some countries they don't even include the printed instructions. (In which case your brown cardboard box only contains a bunch of plastic bricks.)

    I'd say the bricks are 95%. (Clips seem to be a weak point.)
    I couldn't find a single friend who could tell the difference with (close to) 100% certainty.
  • AndyPolAndyPol UKMember Posts: 355
    Lepin obviously trying to get in early, but haven't managed to get hold of photos yet! Disgraceful as usual......

    Click here
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