LEGO’s Interllectual Property
September 18, 2019
SECOND BITE OF TOYMAKER LEGO IN INFRINGING BATTLES IN CHINA
Subsequent to the successful landmark infringement case of LEGO in china in 2017, whereas it was the first time the Danish toys maker has ever triumphed in a copyright claim in China, LEGO has subsequently initiated another substantial infringing battle against the LEPIN building blocks produced by Chinese manufacturer claiming an unprecedented damage of RMB 15 Million (Approx.US$ 2.2 million).
In the prior case in 2017, it was filed against two Chinese companies that have been manufacturing and selling Bela products that are almost identical to those of LEGO. In the decision of 2017, the Shantou Intermediate People’s Court of China ruled that some Bela products had infringed the copyright of the LEGO Group, and the manufacture and sale of those products had constituted acts of unfair competition.
The court also went on to decide that LEGO was protected by Chinese “Anti-Unfair Competition Law” because of the distinctive and unique appearance of certain decorative aspects of the packaging of a particular product line (i.e. LEGO Friends).
In the subsequent case, it was filed against the Chinese company, LEPIN for infringing LEGO’s intellectual property rights, whereas LEPIN has copied many LEGO toy series with prices as low as only one sixth of the infringed authentic LEGO products.
Due to the fact that the models, styles and rubber materials of the Chinese manufacturers are almost identical to those of LEGO, they have been “famous” in the infringing products community and have been nicknamed “LEGO’s younger brother” by netizens.
In the current proceedings, LEGO is seeking rulings from the Guangdong Intellectual Property Court of China (“Guangdong IP Court”), that:-
– LEPIN had infringed LEGO’s various registered trademarks, and the infringing activities had constituted unfair competition;
– LEPIN shall stop infringing LEGO’s various trademark rights;
– LEPIN shall remove the “LEPIN” mark and the “NexoKnights” mark from the website and other multimedia platforms, such as WeChat and QQ, etc;
– LEPIN shall stop all unfair competition activities, including removal of all infringing contents from advertisements or promotions, such as deliberate use of LEPIN or other marks similar to “LEGO” or “樂高” (Chinese version of “LEGO”) in order to confuse the public; and
– LEPIN shall compensate LEGO for RMB 15 million.
LEPIN had appealed all the way up to the the Guangdong Higher People’s Court of China (“Guangdong Higher Court”) challenging the jurisdiction of Guangdong IP Court. Guangdong Higher Court handed down its ultimate decision earlier dismissing LEPIN’s appeal.
While the judgment of the main proceedings is yet to be available, the whole world has been on the side of LEGO. The repeated successes of LEGO in the infringing battles in China have served as breakthrough for the other global consumer-goods makers, evidencing the China’s strengthening protection offered to global IP rights owners.