War of the stones; The Lego Case (Part 2)

On September 2, 2020, Shanghai 3rd Intermediate Court announced on its official Weibo account that in the case of selling counterfeit LEGO products, the defendant Li was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment and fined 90 million RMB as principal criminal for copyright infringement through illegal business operation of counterfeit LEGO products in amount of 330 million RMB. The other 8 accomplices in this case were sentenced to imprisonment from 4 years 6 months to 3 years respectively and fined accordingly.

The infringing products involved in this case included 663 products from 47 series of LEGO’s original products. From 2015 to 2019, the defendant copied and produced counterfeit LEGO products by dismantling original LEGO products, copying drawings etc., and sold the infringing products under the brand of “LEPIN” which is similar with the registered LEGO trademark. According to the judicial appraisal, the turnover from 2017 to 2019 for selling the counterfeit goods exceeded 300 million RMB, the counterfeit goods in stock had a value over 30 million RMB. The total amount involved in this case was 330 million RMB.

Shanghai 3rd Intermediate Court held that the defendant’s illegal operation in this case was particularly serious, the involved amount was particularly large. The infringement of copyright has caused significant losses to the reputation and economic benefits of the IP right holder. Its ruling of pursuing criminal responsibility for the defendant could be a further deterrence for other potential infringers.

patent for its plug-in type products has expired in 2000, which limits the means of protecting rights in term of patent. That may be one of the reasons why this case was focused on the copyright of LEGO. During its multiple litigation for rights protection in China these years, the LEGO trademark was recognized by Beijing Higher Court in 2017 as well-known trademark in China[1]. And LEGO will receive greater protection in China in term of trademark protection. It can be seen that a comprehensive protection of IP rights helps LEGO to safeguard its rights and interests, and this is also worth recommending to all other IP right holders.

Please also note our other articles about the first Lego case from January 2018.

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