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LEGO fight Against Chinese counterfeit LEGO

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Comments

  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,339
    edited December 2016
    As far as "experiencing the build"; aren't there services where you can rent a particular set and experience the build? Of couse, you won't be able to own the set, but if that is one of the the reasons why people buy knock-offs, you can scratch that reason off the list.
    VorpalRyu
  • Switchfoot55Switchfoot55 The Northwest, USAMember Posts: 1,398
    @Pitfall69, where would one locate such services? I know often times for me I just enjoy the experience. I don't have room for a whole modular city, but would greatly enjoy building one. 
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,339
    It has been mentioned many times in this thread that what LEPIN is doing is illegal. Counterfeiting is illegal in China, yet most counterfiet goods come from China. The more companies choose to manufacture goods in China, the bigger the chance that they will lose control of their supply chain. From what I have read; the Chinese government do crack down on counterfieting enterprises, but it is few and far between. I have also read that there is a lot of corruption and that counterfeitors will bribe local officials to keep them off their backs. The question though: Is LEPIN counterfieting LEGO products? There is definitely IP infringement in some cases and it seems they are also infringing on LEGO's minifigure trademark. We are all now aware that TLG has filed a suit against LEPIN, but do we know any specifics? 
    VorpalRyu
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,411
    ^ not yet.

    We are also aware many customisers infringe other companies' IP for their own profit.
    Pitfall69datsunrobbieVorpalRyudougts
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,339
    ^Exactly, and that is why they shouldn't be excluded from the conversation. 
    datsunrobbieVorpalRyudougts
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,339
    This is funny, but also a serious issue here in the US:

    https://youtu.be/3bxcc3SM_KA

    This is why I want to know the specifics of the lawsuit filed by TLG. 
    VorpalRyu
  • blogzillyblogzilly Columbus, OhioMember Posts: 598

    @Pitfall69
    "It has been mentioned many times in this thread that what LEPIN is doing is illegal"

    That doesn't necessarily make it so, and knowing your posts I'm sure you didn't suggest to intimate that.

    I can't go back and read this monster, SO... are there actual court cases where LEPIN was convicted of doing something illegal?. 

  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,339
    edited December 2016
    blogzilly said:

    @Pitfall69
    "It has been mentioned many times in this thread that what LEPIN is doing is illegal"

    That doesn't necessarily make it so, and knowing your posts I'm sure you didn't suggest to intimate that.

    I can't go back and read this monster, SO... are there actual court cases where LEPIN was convicted of doing something illegal?. 

    You took my quote out of context. I wanted to know what TLG is accusing LEPIN of. It could be a plethora of things or just a few very specific things. As far as I know, LEPIN hasn't been convicted of doing anything yet, but TLG won a case against Best-Lock for trademark infringement of their Minifigure. 
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 11,626
    Jody said:
    K'nex actually adds an invisible tracer material to their plastic resin that is visible under black light in order to be able to tell their parts from the Chinese counterfeit parts.
    There are knock-offs of K'Nex?  Does this mean I could actually buy a Koopa with a left and right hand?  
    Jody
  • Glacierfalls265Glacierfalls265 USAMember Posts: 236
    The "experience the build" thing is interesting to note. For me at least if I start wanting a set that's out of my price range, I just watch a speed build of it on Youtube and for some reason that satisfies me and then I don't want the set anymore. Maybe it's because I've watched it being built so the surprise is gone? Sorry that was kind of off topic but I had to get it out of my mind. 
    catwrangler
  • blogzillyblogzilly Columbus, OhioMember Posts: 598
    Pitfall69 said:
    blogzilly said:

    @Pitfall69
    "It has been mentioned many times in this thread that what LEPIN is doing is illegal"

    That doesn't necessarily make it so, and knowing your posts I'm sure you didn't suggest to intimate that.

    I can't go back and read this monster, SO... are there actual court cases where LEPIN was convicted of doing something illegal?. 

    You took my quote out of context. I wanted to know what TLG is accusing LEPIN of. It could be a plethora of things or just a few very specific things. As far as I know, LEPIN hasn't been convicted of doing anything yet, but TLG won a case against Best-Lock for trademark infringement of their Minifigure. 
    What happened to Best-Lock?
  • nkx1nkx1 Member Posts: 719
    edited December 2016

    I'm not sure if it's been mentioned as of yet, but is it of any real consequence if TLG prevails against Lepin? Wont Lepin simply change its name and resume production under a different name? Or wont some other copycat do the exact same thing Lepin is doing in very short order?


    My perception is that the cat has been let out of the bag at this point, and there's probably very little that TLG can realistically do (short of bankrupting itself suing copycats) to stem the tide of fake Lego sets being produced.


    Like many, I have mixed feelings about it all. On the one hand, I'm glad to have access to inexpensive sets that TLG has long since retired. On the other, I'm wary that copycats might have a detrimental impact to TLG as a whole, and thus will begin the gradual decline of the golden age of Lego. Like others have stated, only time will tell how this all pans out.


    I also wanted to address something that @CCC stated regarding people being able to afford a particular set. I can't speak for everyone obviously, but I'm fortunate enough to be able to buy pretty much any Lego set I want within reason, new or retired. However, there is little chance I would spend, say, $1,500 on a product instead of purchasing a virtually identical product for $150. It just doesn't make sense to most people. Therefore, buying Lepin may not necessarily an issue of affordability, but rather an issue of being judicious with the use of one's money. The ethical aspect of this issue can be debated indefinitely, of course.

    AustinPowers
  • blogzillyblogzilly Columbus, OhioMember Posts: 598
    @nhx1 ;
    "I'm wary that copycats might have a detrimental impact to TLG as a whole, and thus will begin the gradual decline of the golden age of Lego

    Well articulated opinion I enjoyed reading it. I am not sure if that would happen though, the part I quoted. I've read about some startups that got creamed by counterfeiting, but a larger company like LEGO? I dunno...I think they will weather it OK. Besides, we don't know if tools won't be developed in the future for better policing of it.

    And certainly there are things that could be done now that are not. I personally think TLG is suing the wrong company. They should not be suing LEPIN. They should be suing Amazon, eBay and AliExpress and every other major online retailer that allows the selling of the product to continue. It is not realistic that they could win, but they might force a settlement that would force these groups to take action. If they faced a penalty instead of a percentage of each sale, it might motivate them to take the product down. Tools exist to weed stuff out. Try to list porn in a toy category. I dare ya! :)

    I don't think that will happen, I think the stuff in some form will be around. That's just life.
  • Switchfoot55Switchfoot55 The Northwest, USAMember Posts: 1,398
    I agree with @blogzilly. There is certainly a market for these counterfeit sets, otherwise they wouldn't be around. However, I don't think they would be able to steal a large enough piece of the market to seriously cripple or destroy the Lego empire. Have you ever visited AliExpress? It doesn't exactly invoke feelings of confidence that you won't be scammed for everything in your bank account. 

    Perhaps my argument is naive or simplistic. It's not necessarily an argument for or against Lepin to be honest. I just agree that Lego's efforts would likely be more fruitful to go after the retailers selling the products rather than the maker of the products. 
    bgl_84
  • nkx1nkx1 Member Posts: 719
    blogzilly said:
    I personally think TLG is suing the wrong company. They should not be suing LEPIN. They should be suing Amazon, eBay and AliExpress and every other major online retailer that allows the selling of the product to continue.

    I wonder how feasible this would be? I'm not familiar enough with the legal landscape of this issue to know, but I wonder if it is the responsibility of Amazon, ebay, AliExpress, et al to police all listings to identify potentially counterfeit products? Further, it hasn't yet been legally established (to my knowledge) that what Lepin is doing is illegal. I would think that some legal precedent would need to be established first, and only then could the online marketplaces be compelled to take some sort of action to prevent Lepin sales. Lastly (as I mentioned previously), it's probably an exercise in futility anyway. If Lepin goes away, another copycat (or 20) will likely take it's place.


    Have you ever visited AliExpress? It doesn't exactly invoke feelings of confidence that you won't be scammed for everything in your bank account.
    I've visited and purchased products from AliExpress/DHGate and have yet to have any issues. I even paid for an item that was never received and was refunded. Generally speaking, it is in the best interest of merchants on these sites to act in the best interest of their customers. Otherwise, there wont be any customers (obviously). I'm sure there are scammers on these sites, but the risk seems very tolerable if buying from a merchant with decent feedback. I'm just sharing my experience, thoughts, and opinions. I'm not trying to encourage anyone to purchase fake Lego, of course!
  • kizkizkizkiz londonMember Posts: 95
    In answer to two points raised above, 
    Lele are now bringing out ucs sets too. They have beaten lepin to market with r2d2 for instance.

    Aliexpress is actually safer than eBay. The seller only gets your money once you confirm that you have the goods and are happy with them. Buyers have all the power without having to scam the sellers, like on eBay
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,411
    @nkx1 I should point out that by "cannot afford" I really mean "won't pay for". You are right there.
    VorpalRyu
  • Switchfoot55Switchfoot55 The Northwest, USAMember Posts: 1,398
    Interesting comments about AliExpress. I tend to be overly cautious with online purchases (bad experience). 
    Jackad7
  • nhyonenhyone Member Posts: 145
    What I learnt in the past two months:

    * Lepin is releasing more Star Plan sets

    * Including old UCS sets such as the ISD

    * But they substituted key parts due to unavailability of parts!

    * Lepin Technic parts do not have tight enough tolerance to work. This affects the Emerald Night too.

    * Lepin raised prices by 10-15%

    * After exhausting Modular Buildings and the 4 MOCs, Lepin is copying Oxford's Game Room. (Or so I read.) The Lepin's 150xx range is almost like a badge of "honour" -- the building is good enough to be worth copying.

    * Lele is releasing Modular Buildings too (and cheaper)
  • JodyJody Eastern USAMember Posts: 104
    The Decool Porsche gets very high marks from those who have built it. 
  • blogzillyblogzilly Columbus, OhioMember Posts: 598
    nhyone said:
    What I learnt in the past two months:

    * Lepin is releasing more Star Plan sets

    * Including old UCS sets such as the ISD

    * But they substituted key parts due to unavailability of parts!

    * Lepin Technic parts do not have tight enough tolerance to work. This affects the Emerald Night too.

    * Lepin raised prices by 10-15%

    * After exhausting Modular Buildings and the 4 MOCs, Lepin is copying Oxford's Game Room. (Or so I read.) The Lepin's 150xx range is almost like a badge of "honour" -- the building is good enough to be worth copying.

    * Lele is releasing Modular Buildings too (and cheaper)
    @nyhone The unavailability of parts thing confuses me on a LEPIN set. I mean, they are making new tools right? Why not make new pieces of the old pieces? Are they not able to acquire a part off a Bricklink type site the way anybody does? They would have do to at least some prelim work I would imagine. They had to do that when making the MOC buildings didn't they? At least on the manuals.
    Jackad7
  • JodyJody Eastern USAMember Posts: 104
    They are adding replacement parts as they go. My recent Grand Emporium had parts that were not found in the early reviews. 
  • nhyonenhyone Member Posts: 145
    My guess is that those pieces are too specialized or used too infrequently to justify making a mold for them.

    Lepin is copycat, but it isn't charity. :-D

    I'm not surprised Decool does better Technic sets. They have been at it for years! Also, I think they have the Porsche in two other colors, white and green?

    @Judy, can you give some examples of the replacement parts? I have not seen this mentioned before.
  • catwranglercatwrangler Northern IrelandMember Posts: 1,732
    @Switchfoot55 asked about Lego rental services; one called BuildUrBricks has been reviewed on Brickset: http://brickset.com/article/16086

    But there's also companies like Netbricks, WeLoveBricks.com and LittleBird that come up when I Google "lego rental" - I have no experience of them, but I can see the uses for people who just want to experience a build, and/or perhaps don't have a lot of storage or display space to accommodate a permanent large collection of Lego. Seems like an alternative worth considering for people who'd buy from Lepin just to have the build experience. 

    Like @nkx1, I worry that Lepin might have a detrimental effect on TLG over time. Things are going so well now - the company is doing stuff I wished they'd do when I was younger (Ideas, so many sets aimed at AFOLs, licensed character sets), and things I never imagined then. But I wonder about the cost of TLG dealing with it (increased security and legal action must cost a lot), and also the dilution of the brand. Say Lepin etc. become available through more and more channels, and it's not just AFOLs treating it as just another option, but the average person buying Lego for kids? 

    I did wonder if one option TLG have would be to give less preferential treatment to retail partners (e.g. Amazon) that also sell Lepin stuff, but that could rebound on them, in that if Amazon have access to fewer Lego sets at less competitive bulk prices, that will be passed on to Amazon's customers, to whom Lepin will just become more attractive... it's a puzzle. 
  • kizkizkizkiz londonMember Posts: 95
    There's no way that Chinese bootlegs get too big over here. Your average member of public is not going to buy from China and import. It's just too much effort/risk.
    Resellers will get shut down and sued.
    Some Ali sellers are already not selling to some European countries as customs are stopping so many packages
    Jackad7
  • blogzillyblogzilly Columbus, OhioMember Posts: 598
    edited January 2017
    @Jody see the above question...

    @nyhone makes sense. I'm not familiar with how rare the part is.
  • JodyJody Eastern USAMember Posts: 104
    The flower decoration in the top corner was not originally included. This sheet of the instruction book is actually a sticker on top of the original page due to the skylight substitute parts. I would not be surprised to see the original skylight pieces show up at some point in the future.  


  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,411
    kizkiz said:
    There's no way that Chinese bootlegs get too big over here. Your average member of public is not going to buy from China and import. It's just too much effort/risk.
    Resellers will get shut down and sued.
    Some Ali sellers are already not selling to some European countries as customs are stopping so many packages
    That depends what too big means. They are already so big that I'd advise anyone that doesn't read auctions fully not to buy minifigs on eBay if they search for lego minifigure (name).
    SumoLegodanstraindepotJackad7
  • blogzillyblogzilly Columbus, OhioMember Posts: 598
    @CCC That statement should just be a general rule, not just because of LEPIN, don't you think? And I'm saying that just because nobody should buy anything on an eBay auction without reading the full description, no matter what it is.

    Counterfeit product doesn't even factor in nearly as much as bad eBay selling practices. I say that as a person who has run an eBay store since 2005. There are a butt load of bad, BAD Sellers out there.
    Jackad7
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,411
    ^ Yes, most definitely. In fact, most fake minifigures are not Lepin. But it was meant in reference to Chinese bootlegs, which includes nearly all the faker brands.
  • nkx1nkx1 Member Posts: 719
    edited January 2017

    kizkiz said:
    There's no way that Chinese bootlegs get too big over here. Your average member of public is not going to buy from China and import. It's just too much effort/risk.
    Resellers will get shut down and sued.
    Some Ali sellers are already not selling to some European countries as customs are stopping so many packages


    There are countless examples of underestimating one's opponent and getting burned. I wouldn't underestimate the potential impact of Lepin and other copycats on the plastic brick market. If these sets become ubiquitous on ebay, it stands to reason that they could become "big". If the sets stay on Aliexpress and DHGate, then I would tend to agree with you, assuming Aliexpress and DHGate don't become more popular in the U.S.

    As far as resellers getting sued, I believe it would have be legally established that the products are illegal, which hasn't yet happened to my knowledge. Then TLG would need to sue individual resellers. Although the music industry seems to have had some fleeting success in a loosely similar regard (suing end users and distributors in possession of illegally-downloaded music), it's hard to say if TLG would have the tenacity to engage in such tactics. Anything is possible, I suppose. I think TLG might have more success in compelling ebay to remove listings.

    Regarding European countries stopping packages, how are they doing this legally? Are you referring to just Lepin and related sets? If so, has a European court ruled that all Lepin sets are illegal? What about all the other brands? Don't customs agencies have more pressing matters to attend to, like humans being imported?

  • theLEGOmantheLEGOman UKMember Posts: 1,507
    nkx1 said:

    Regarding European countries stopping packages, how are they doing this legally? Are you referring to just Lepin and related sets? If so, has a European court ruled that all Lepin sets are illegal? What about all the other brands? Don't customs agencies have more pressing matters to attend to, like humans being imported?

    I've heard from a number of LEPIN buyers how little if any tax they have paid and the low value declared on the package, eg GT3's with $19 on the package.

    Doesn't take much for a customs officer to search on the internet for the selling price and work out that they are being under declared value wise.
  • kizkizkizkiz londonMember Posts: 95
    I don't know the full details...Just what I've read on some Facebook groups.
    iirc it was Italy stopping lots of packages and seizing them. A few sellers are refusing to send instruction manuals for fear of getting it stopped. All rather random, but adds to the risk for any potential customer
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,776
    nkx1 said:

    Regarding European countries stopping packages, how are they doing this legally? Are you referring to just Lepin and related sets? If so, has a European court ruled that all Lepin sets are illegal? What about all the other brands? Don't customs agencies have more pressing matters to attend to, like humans being imported?
    I'm sure if they find any kind of human trafficking, they're going to do everything they can to stop that as well. It's not as though they're inspecting shipping containers, finding huddled masses of people inside, and going "eh, no Lepin here, carry on".

    Don't know if it's the same everywhere in the world, but in the United States, copyright and trademark holders send their registration documents to Customs and Border Protection. When CBP finds goods that they suspect infringe one of these copyrights or trademarks, they seize the products and notify the importer. Then the importer has to choose whether to contest the claim of infringement through the court system or forfeit the goods and pay a fine. CBP also seeks out feedback from the IP holder on whether the product violates their trademarks and why, which will be presented in court if it comes to that.
    LyichirVorpalRyustlux
  • eggsheneggshen Middleton, WIMember Posts: 518
    Not sure if anyone else saw this story:

    http://www.cnbc.com/2017/01/04/alibaba-sues-sellers-of-counterfeit-goods-for-the-first-time-after-it-was-blacklisted-by-the-us.html

    Looks like Alibaba is sick of having one of it's sites (taobao.com) on the US blacklist.

    This story is about Swarovski watches, but what I find interesting is that it was the Chinese government that raided the companies after complaints by the owner of Alibaba. Just shows that money talks, it was just a matter of time before the pressure from other countries started impacting Alibaba to the point that they started going after suppliers on their site. 

    Hopefully this will impact Lepin, but since the jury is still out on whether Lepin is counterfeit or not I guess we will have to see. Either way I see this as definite progress. :-)
  • JodyJody Eastern USAMember Posts: 104
    I don't see any way Lepin sets could be stopped by US customs if they have no instructions and no box. They are just a "puzzle" at that point, and the patent on interlocking blocks has long expired.
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,776
    Jody said:
    I don't see any way Lepin sets could be stopped by US customs if they have no instructions and no box. They are just a "puzzle" at that point, and the patent on interlocking blocks has long expired.
    I haven't heard reports on Lepin specifically being seized, and you're right, the frequent method of shipping Lepin products without instructions or boxes might make them trickier to ID as counterfeit products than many knock-offs.

    However, while patent on basic LEGO blocks is certainly expired, I'm pretty sure the LEGO minifigure is still protected by trademark (LEGO won a case against Best-Lock in the General Court of the EU upholding this trademark as recently as June 2015). So sets containing minifigures could probably be seized by customs on grounds of trademark violations. Many more recent LEGO patents like the patents on the mini-doll used in girl-oriented sets, the "Character and Creature Building System" used in constraction sets, and the interlocking bases used in Juniors sets also remain active.
    Lyichir
  • blogzillyblogzilly Columbus, OhioMember Posts: 598
    @eggshen That's just window dressing on the part of AliBaba, not unlike a gesture Amazon made not long ago when some heat was brought by press regarding some counterfeiting and some smaller businesses. Did you read the article? Here is a telling thing:

    "The company has been taking steps to deal with the fake goods issue. It employs 2,000 permanent staff and 5,000 volunteers to help find counterfeit goods. Alibaba also uses data and artificial intelligence to root out fake items. Its algorithms monitor hundreds of data points such as price and transaction records of sellers to root out illegitimate products. The e-commerce giant said it was able to scan images and logos and find mismatches between the text of a listing and the accompanying photo. For example, a name brand watch might be listed for one price, but the image might show a lower figure."

    2,000 permanent staff, 5,000 volunteers and various artificial intelligence.  With that many resources, any product should be wiped off the map. ANY. You and I can manually go in and spot the stuff on our own and probably hit half the LEPIN inventory on AliExpress in a day. But it would come back. Somehow. Mainly because AliExpress itself suffers no penalty for allowing it on their site to begin with. That's one core issue, one CNBC misses in their write up.

    You can't rely on Customs to fix it. Governments don't even go after companies that knock off Rolex and Gucci and Prada and other high end brands, why are they going to use border resources the way they need to (or any other) to seek out toy knock offs? It doesn't compute to me. Especially when they need to be allocated to search for so MANY things.

    As a younger man I collected all kinds of toys voraciously. As a collector and during my entire career in toy manufacturing I have come across all kinds of knock-offs and counterfeit products. Not just from China but some made in Mexico, Brazil, India, etc. Buddies of mine have collected them as a hobby. 

    A lot of of them have been stuff like DC and Marvel figs, Star Wars figs and the like. Hasbro and Mattel are still here. LEGO will still be here. Assuming that these knockoffs persist, which I believe they will, as long as they sit on a fence of legality. As long as it is half-OK for retailers to sell them globally.

    i should dig up one of my favorites, my boxing bed sheet Darth Maul as I call him. Where did I put that thing!
  • JodyJody Eastern USAMember Posts: 104
    If the minifig is copyrighted, how does OYO sports get away with it? They sell them right across from the Lego stuff at Target and TRU. 
  • datsunrobbiedatsunrobbie West Haven , CTMember Posts: 1,432
    ^OYO figures are quite a bit different than LEGO minifigures, the ankle joints make it easy to tell OYO from LEGO.
    Pitfall69
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,411
    Aanchir said:

    However, while patent on basic LEGO blocks is certainly expired, I'm pretty sure the LEGO minifigure is still protected by trademark (LEGO won a case against Best-Lock in the General Court of the EU upholding this trademark as recently as June 2015). So sets containing minifigures could probably be seized by customs on grounds of trademark violations. Many more recent LEGO patents like the patents on the mini-doll used in girl-oriented sets, the "Character and Creature Building System" used in constraction sets, and the interlocking bases used in Juniors sets also remain active.
    ^OYO figures are quite a bit different than LEGO minifigures, the ankle joints make it easy to tell OYO from LEGO.

    Remember this has got to be done by a customs officer though. If they see a small figure and are not an AFOL, will they care or even be able to tell if it looks like a LEGO minifigure, a megabloks one, a best-lock one, a playmobil one, a Polly Pocket one, etc.
    catwrangler
  • datsunrobbiedatsunrobbie West Haven , CTMember Posts: 1,432
    blogzilly said:
    @eggshen That's just window dressing on the part of AliBaba, not unlike a gesture Amazon made not long ago when some heat was brought by press regarding some counterfeiting and some smaller businesses. Did you read the article? Here is a telling thing:

    "The company has been taking steps to deal with the fake goods issue. It employs 2,000 permanent staff and 5,000 volunteers to help find counterfeit goods. Alibaba also uses data and artificial intelligence to root out fake items. Its algorithms monitor hundreds of data points such as price and transaction records of sellers to root out illegitimate products. The e-commerce giant said it was able to scan images and logos and find mismatches between the text of a listing and the accompanying photo. For example, a name brand watch might be listed for one price, but the image might show a lower figure."

    2,000 permanent staff, 5,000 volunteers and various artificial intelligence.  With that many resources, any product should be wiped off the map. ANY. You and I can manually go in and spot the stuff on our own and probably hit half the LEPIN inventory on AliExpress in a day. But it would come back. Somehow. Mainly because AliExpress itself suffers no penalty for allowing it on their site to begin with. That's one core issue, one CNBC misses in their write up.

    You can't rely on Customs to fix it. Governments don't even go after companies that knock off Rolex and Gucci and Prada and other high end brands, why are they going to use border resources the way they need to (or any other) to seek out toy knock offs? It doesn't compute to me. Especially when they need to be allocated to search for so MANY things.

    As a younger man I collected all kinds of toys voraciously. As a collector and during my entire career in toy manufacturing I have come across all kinds of knock-offs and counterfeit products. Not just from China but some made in Mexico, Brazil, India, etc. Buddies of mine have collected them as a hobby. 

    A lot of of them have been stuff like DC and Marvel figs, Star Wars figs and the like. Hasbro and Mattel are still here. LEGO will still be here. Assuming that these knockoffs persist, which I believe they will, as long as they sit on a fence of legality. As long as it is half-OK for retailers to sell them globally.

    i should dig up one of my favorites, my boxing bed sheet Darth Maul as I call him. Where did I put that thing!
    http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/alibaba-statistics/
    http://www.go-globe.com/blog/alibaba-statistics-trends/

    fun facts (assumes the data linked above is accurate)
    Number of annual sellers on AliBaba: 8.5 million 
    Number of sales annually : 12.7 BILLION
    Number of sellers penalized for selling counterfeit goods:131,000

    2000 people sounds like a lot of staff until you consider the number of listings to be reviewed. 7000 people policing 8.8 million sellers, making 12.7 billion transactions. Each staff member including volunteers would have to check 1258 sellers. 
    catwrangler
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,776
    blogzilly said:

    You can't rely on Customs to fix it. Governments don't even go after companies that knock off Rolex and Gucci and Prada and other high end brands [snip]
    Err… yes they do:

    https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/local-media-release/cbp-seizes-10000-counterfeit-designer-handbags-miami-seaport
    https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/local-media-release/cbp-seizes-over-29-million-counterfeit-designer-jewelry
    https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/local-media-release/cbp-seizes-500k-fake-goods

    The fact that they haven't completely eliminated the problem doesn't mean they aren't fighting it, or that those fights never result in any meaningful victories.

    You're right that no customs agency can shut down the manufacturers of these goods unless a) the manufacturer handles their own exporting and b) their business depends heavily on exports. The first is generally not true of most of these LEGO knock-off manufacturers, and with the Asian toy market growing as fast as it is, I'm not 100% convinced that the second applies to them, either. But customs agencies can still be a powerful force against importers who attempt to sell counterfeit goods overseas.
    Lyichir
  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,332
    Its all interesting but Lepin is not counterfeit.
    datsunrobbieJern92Recce
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,411
    Its all interesting but Lepin is not counterfeit.
    And that is the important point. If a minifigure or bag of bricks is not claiming to be Lego, then customs are not going to be checking for IP or trademark issues on parts. There are plenty of legal brick clones. I cannot see them searching through a bag or box of bricks looking at each brick in turn.
    pharmjod
  • eggsheneggshen Middleton, WIMember Posts: 518
    I actually wasn't even concerned about customs. The thing I found interesting is that Chinese officials raided a counterfeiter on Chinese soil. My experience (which is, just like everyone else's, anecdotal) is that this is unusual. 

    My hope is that with a factory on Chinese soil and a new growing market of official LEGO products in that market TLG will be able to take down Lepin at the source. This article now has me believing it might be possible.
    SprinkleOtter
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,411
    I'm still not sure the world will be any different if Lego win their case(s) against Lepin. There will still be clone bricks appearing on BL and eBay, some sellers will still mix them in job lots of Lego(s), there will still be IP infringing customs using genuine Lego parts, there will still be IP infringing figures using clone parts, ...

  • AustinPowersAustinPowers GermanyMember Posts: 278
    edited January 2017
    Pitfall69 said:
    As far as "experiencing the build"; aren't there services where you can rent a particular set and experience the build?


    Now that's an interesting concept. I know there are services over here where you can rent current toys for a certain amount of time, but I have not yet seen a service that rents out long EOL'ed Lego sets like Cafe Corner, Green Grocer, Millenium Falcon, Taj Mahal etc. Not that I would imagine anyone would rent out such expensive sets anyway. Common items, sure, but not highly sought after stuff like that which commands thousands of dollars each on the collectors market.

    Jern92
  • AustinPowersAustinPowers GermanyMember Posts: 278
    CCC said:
    eggshen said:
    I don't understand the "I only buy retired sets from Lepin" argument. It seems like a slippery slope.

    If you think about it, every set is eventually retired, so if one waits long enough you can use this argument on every set. And since it will eventually retire, you may as well buy it from Lepin now instead of later. 

    Every Lepin purchase is essentially a thumbs up to them and their products (current LEGO products and retired). 

    I guess mostly I just don't get the concept of "needing" counterfeit items to complete a collection. I know many types of collectors, I don't know anyone that buys a reproduction firearm, statue, painting, or toy to fill in gaps in their collection. They save up to buy the real item or they decide that they will collect other items to fill in their collection.

    I doubt anyone right now is admiring their counterfeit Mona Lisa and thinking to themselves "I know that this is not the real one, but I would say that the brushstrokes on this canvas are as good if not better than the original, plus the price was much better. Maybe I should get that counterfeit Last Supper I've been eyeing and while I'm at it I should see if anyone has copied Roy Lichtenstein or Rammellzee so I can pick that up for cheaper. I'm sure none of the artists will mind".

    Does not compute.

    I fully understand people using fakes. These are often people that want to experience building the set and sometimes displaying the set but cannot afford the set. For some people, it doesn't matter if it has Lego on the studs. It is not necessarily about completeness of a set or series.

    I've never built a lepin set but have seen one and spoken to the person that built it. He told me he enjoyed the build as much as similar genuine modulars. For him it was have that experience with a fake, or not at all. I suggested maybe BLing the set with alternative colours and some substitutes, but he doesn't like the BL process for large sets, and he doesn't MOC either. 


    Similar here. My reason (other than pure curiosity) for buying my first Lepin set at all (Green Grocer) was that I always liked that set, but was in my "dark ages" when it was around for purchase from Lego. And by now it commands prices on the aftermarket that are just ridiculous for what you get. I could afford to pay that kind of money for an original, but it just seems like a total waste. I mean, for the price of ONE original MISB Green Grocer on the aftermarket I can buy the entire current range of available modulars including AS, and still have a lot of money left for other sets. Think about that for a moment and then understand why I call the aftermarket prices ridiculous.

    Imho one also can't compare the situation to that of the art market. Why? There is only one original Mona Lisa (ok, some argue there are actually two or three, but let's not get into that discussion), hence the value of that piece of art. Same with the Last Supper, or any other piece of original art.

    Lego sets otoh are mass produced items, even long EOL'ed sets like GG etc. They are no pieces of art worth thousands of dollars. One might even argue (and I certainly would, after having built both the Lepin GG as well as orignal Lego modulars of later years) that when it comes to value for money (and design quality and building techniques), current Modulars are far better than the older ones. Actually, my main reason for liking GG so much (as well as HH) is the abundant use of sand-green parts, one of my favorite Lego colours.

    And as for the completionist argument, I personally am certainly no completionist collector. Otherwise I would have bought all the other retired Modulars from Lepin as well. Hell, I didn't even buy the PS before it was retired last year, nor do I intend to buy it in the future.

    Of course, the argument "I only buy EOL'ed" can be a slippery slope, as eggshen said, but at least for me personally, it means that I would only consider Lepin for sets that were long EOL'ed before Lepin produced them. Then again, I am not in the market for any more Lepin sets anyway, because by now I have the three EOL'ed sets that interested me the most in the first place (GG, TH and HH). There is only one other long EOL'ed set that would really interest me as a MISB set, and I am absolutely certain that Lepin will never produce it, and that is 926 (or 493 in the US) Command Centre ;-)

  • AustinPowersAustinPowers GermanyMember Posts: 278
    nkx1 said:

    I also wanted to address something that @CCC stated regarding people being able to afford a particular set. I can't speak for everyone obviously, but I'm fortunate enough to be able to buy pretty much any Lego set I want within reason, new or retired. However, there is little chance I would spend, say, $1,500 on a product instead of purchasing a virtually identical product for $150. It just doesn't make sense to most people. Therefore, buying Lepin may not necessarily an issue of affordability, but rather an issue of being judicious with the use of one's money. The ethical aspect of this issue can be debated indefinitely, of course.


    My situation exactly.
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