Most Lego enthusiasts are familiar with the Chinese manufacturer Lepin for their “economically priced Lego compatible inter-locking building blocks sets.”
(There. That sounds a whole lot better than “counterfeit Legos“)
The company had been under investigation since last year for suspected Lego knockoffs. “In October 2018, the Shanghai police found that Lepin building blocks available on the market were extremely similar to that of Lego,” a police statement read.
This profound statement should come as an absolute and complete surprise to absolutely no one that has ever seen a Lepin building block toy set!
For Example: See the below pictures of the Star Wars Death Star play set.
The authentic Lego set sells on Amazon for $499.95 and the Lepin counterfeit sells on the Chinese retail site AliExpress for $136.
Lepin is accused of copying Lego blueprints and sending them to a factory in Shenzhen for manufacturing, to then sell all over China.
Authorities said that in raid at the Lepin facility in Shenzhen they found more than 10 assembly lines, where over 90 molds had been produced and 630,000 pieces of fake Legos had been completed. We are talking about $30 million dollars worth of counterfeit product!
Among the copied Lego products where a Star Wars knock-off that the company renamed “Star Plan” and sets of the “Lego Movie 2” under the name “The Lepin Bricks 2.”
What is shocking about the police raid is not that they found these counterfeit products, but the question is what took them so long to find them?
Lepin has been selling plagiarized Legos for anywhere from 1/3 to 1/10 the cost of real Legos for years. So what happened that suddenly the Chinese authorities decided to do something about theft of Lego‘s intellectual property?
As much as I want there to be a shady back story behind all of this (such as a missed handoff of an over-stuffed envelope being passed to a corrupt politician to “look the other way”), the reality is that the Chinese government has been under increased international pressure recently to crack down on intellectual property theft.
Lets see if this raid forces the black market value of the Lepin products higher than the Lego products they were ripping off?
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