Police in China have arrested four people for making and selling fake Lego.
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After piecing together the clues, police in China have arrested a gang accused of manufacturing and selling 30 million dollars worth of counterfeit Lego. State media say officers arrested four people when they raided the toy maker Lepin in the southern city of Shenzhen. They also seized more than 600 000 fake Lego pieces. Investigators say there were striking similarities with the real Lego’s designs including a Star Wars imitation rebranded as Star Plan.
So how did these bricks compare to the original ones? Lise Juset spoke to Andrew Becraft, editor- in- chief of Brothers Brick, a news website for Lego fans.
It’s very very close to the quality of Lego at anything from 60 to 80 percent of the price off. But it just doesn’t feel quite the same and isn’t quite as good quality as the official products from Lego.
But for someone who wants to build something with Lego, they could, say do with Lepin, they could still achieve the same result?
In most cases, yes. The parts are largely the same. They’re largely compatible, but that’s primarily because they’re effectively counterfeits. And counterfeits of course are going to be very similar to the real thing but just not quite the same.
And what is the big issue here because I understand the patent has expired on Lego, which means others can make similar products?
Absolutely. This isn’t an issue of competition. Lego certainly needs competition. Good companies need that for innovation and to keep prices fair for consumers. However, the fundamental issue here is that companies like Lepin are literally stealing the actual set designs that Lego has spent, in some cases, years doing research and development on. They literally steal the graphics from the box art and slap a Lepin logo on top of the Lego logo. So it’s straightforward counterfeiting as opposed to competition.
The fact that someone wants to copy it is of course an emphasis on just how much Lego matters. It’s a huge industry now. Everyone seems to have Lego. How much Lego do you have?
A lot. It’s all over my living room. It’s over in the corner because I am not sure that interior decoration via Lego would be quite what my wife is interested in.
Andrew Becraft, Lego man and editor-in-chief of Brothers Brick, a news website for LEGO fans.