Chinese firms fined $4.7m for making knock-off Lego

Lego has won another battle in a long-running legal war with Chinese companies it accuses of counterfeiting its iconic construction toys.

A court in in the southern province of Guangdong has increased an earlier award against the companies behind the knock-off Lepin brand from 3m yuan to 30m yuan (around $4.7m) in what is considered to be a major win for a western brand within China.

The latest decision is final, with no route for appeal, and comes after the Shanghai Higher People’s Court upheld prison terms for Lego infringers late last year in a related case focusing on copyright infringement.

The ringleader of the gang had a six-year prison sentence and fines of 90m yuan (almost $14m), while jail terms of between three and 4.5 years were given to another eight defendants.

From 2015 to April 2019, the defendants bought new Lego toys and, using computer modelling and other techniques, reproduced them with near-identical parts and packaging, selling them online and through offline stores.

They were convicted last September of selling an estimated $40m-worth of copyright-infringing products, including big-selling kits from the Star Wars, Harry Potter and Lego City franchises, and on their arrest had some $4m-worth of Lepin product ready for shipping.

The kits were made by contractor companies including Guangdong Meizhi Zhijiao Technology Co and also at a factory the gang ran under a holding company called Shantou Lepin Toys Co. Both these entities were targeted by the latest lawsuit.

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