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Two wins by the LEGO Group in China against Chinese copycats

08 March 2018

8 March 2018 - The LEGO Group rarely puts itself under the spotlight by talking about litigations but it made an exception on 7 December 2017 by applauding its recent victories against two Chinese infringers: https://www.lego.com/en-us/aboutus/news-room/2017/december/lego-group-wins-case-against-bela.

The intellectual property lawyers who obtained said victories are from the Hogan Lovells Shanghai office and its associated office, Hogan Lovells Fidelity, in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone. Two Chinese toy makers (the "defendants") were jointly manufacturing and selling imitation LEGO products ("BELA Products"). The lawsuits were filed to Shantou Intermediate People’s Court based on copyright infringement and unfair competition.

The Court decided that the two defendants must stop copying the packaging and logos of LEGO products under Chinese copyright laws. Further, the Court recognized the unique and distinctive appearance and packaging of the LEGO Friends product line have become source-indicating trade dress for well-known LEGO toys through their extensive use and advertisement. Hence the court determined that the defendants shall cease copying and using the said trade dress under Chinese anti-unfair competition laws.

We echo the LEGO Group's observation that the above victories exemplify the Chinese government's continued focus on proper intellectual property protection.

For creative or cultural industries, China remains to be a challenging landscape for the IP proprietors due to the presence of many IP infringement acts. Such challenge adds the significance for the IP right owners to understand and make good use of the already available IP enforcement mechanism in China (civil actions, administrative actions or criminal actions) in order to build an effective IP enforcement program and to stop losing revenues to the infringers. We are pleased to be able to help the LEGO Group to execute some of its IP enforcement actions and to see positive outcomes." commented Zhen (Katie) Feng, IP partner in Hogan Lovells' Shanghai IP Agency.

The lawyers advising LEGO on the actions against BELA products include: Zhen (Katie) Feng (Partner, Shanghai IP Agency), Suyu Yuan (Counsel, Hogan Lovells Fidelity) and Julia Peng (Senior Associate, Hogan Lovells Fidelity).

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