Law enforcement officials in China struck a major blow in the fight against knock-off Lego products. A coordinated raid has shut down one of the biggest offenders around.
For years, a company called Lepin has been producing buildable toys. Like Lego, theirs are also made from bricks. They?re also 100 percent Lego-compatible, come with identical minifigs, and feature instructions and packaging that they only barely bothered to alter, like swapping Lego City for Lepin Cities or Ninjago for Ninjasaga. Clever, right?
Well, Lego was understandably not all that keen on what Lepin was doing. The Lego Group filed a civil suit in China against Lepin (and three other companies) in September of 2016. Just over two years later, a judge ruled in Lego?s favor.
The defendants were ordered to pay around $670,000 in compensation and were ordered to cease sales, promotion, and production of all offending items immediately.
Lepin apparently didn?t take the court too seriously and carried on as though nothing had ever happened. We?re pretty sure the officer in this photo is saying something along the lines of ?seriously, did you think we wouldn?t find out about this??
Just how big a problem was Lepin? Police shut down three separate warehouses and more than 10 production lines. They also confiscated almost 100 molds, 200,000 manuals, 200,000 retail boxes, and a whopping 630,000 packaged sets.
Shanghai police also arrested four suspects and proclaimed that they had ?destroyed the criminal gang.? They also destroyed the gang?s equipment just to make sure that the operation wouldn?t just be fired right back up as soon as they exited the building.
Oh, and they also found almost $30 million in cash lying around. That?s a good indication that Lepin had been doing rather well with its knockoffs.
With that kind of cash involved, it seems pretty likely another counterfeiter will fill the gap left by Lepin. For now, though, the folks at Lego can sleep a little easier.