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Shanghai Court Backs Copyright Protection for Lego - China Legal News

Mon, 01 Feb 2021
Categories: China Legal Trends

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Shanghai High People’s Court held that LEGO bricks constitute works of fine art.

Recently, Shanghai High People's Court rendered the final judgment on the case of "LEPIN" (乐拼) counterfeiting "LEGO", involving the amount of up to CNY 330 million. The court dismissed the appeal filed by Li and others, and affirmed the original judgment. According to the original judgment, Li was sentenced to six years in prison for the crime of copyright infringement and was fined CNY 90 million. The other eight defendants were respectively sentenced to set term imprisonment ranging from three years to four years and six months, together with fines.

In April 2019, Shanghai Municipal Public Security Bureau seized injection molds used to duplicate Lego toys, spare parts used for assembling molds, various types of packaging boxes for Lepin toys, manuals, sales orders, related computers, mobile phones, and Lepin toy products that are duplications of Lego series in Li's rented factory. Appraised by the Copyright Appraisal Committee of the Copyright Protection Center of China, many types of Lepin toys are the same as Lego toys, which constitute a duplication relationship. And the production of Li and others was not licensed by LEGO.

On 2 Sep. 2020, after trying, Shanghai Third Intermediate People's Court held that Li and other eight defendants, without the permission of the copyright owner, reproduced and distributed LEGO's copyrighted works of fine art for profit, which constitutes the crime of copyright infringement for such particularly serious circumstances.

After the first-instance court rendered the judgment, Li and other defendants appealed. Shanghai High People’s Court determined in the second instance that according to the relevant laws and regulations of copyright, "works of fine art refer to paintings, calligraphy, sculpture and other aesthetically meaningful flat or three-dimensional plastic art works created with the use of lines, colors or other patterns." In this case, 663 pieces of three-dimensional models have been infringed upon copyright. These three-dimensional models are created independently by LEGO, with originality and unique aesthetic significance, so the assembled three-dimensional toys are all works of fine art protected by Copyright Law of China. Therefore, the behavior of Li and others constitutes the crime of copyright infringement.

Contributors: CJO Staff Contributors Team

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