A quick visit to the website LepinLand.com and it’s pretty clear, the toys the Chinese company sells are eerily similar to another very popular toy on the market: Legos.
But it won’t be selling them much longer.
The Chinese company posted a message on its website to say that at the request of the Chinese Government and Shanghai Police, it is temporarily stopping production of their block sets starting in May.
Chinese authorities raided Lepin’s factory located in Shenzhen, China last week after discovering it was allegedly manufacturing fake Lego products. The raid turned up $30 million worth of counterfeit Legos and police arrested four people, the BBC reported.
Most Lepin sets, including its Star Wars series, are advertised on its website as “compatible with Lego.”
And now we know why. Police said in a statement that the toys were copied from Lego blueprints and more than 630,000 finished products were seized from the factory, the BBC reported.
A police investigation is still underway. According to the BBC, images posted by Chinese authorities after the raid showed products that looked nearly identical to those produced by the Danish toy giant, Lego.
The Lepin brand is definitely a cheaper option, often selling for a fraction of the price of Legos. As of Saturday afternoon, Lepin’s website had its Star Wars Millennium Falcon kit listed for $313.30 whereas an authentic Lego one goes for $799.99.
Zhong Shikai, one of the police officers responsible for investigating the case, told the state-run news agency Xinhua that there are big differences in the craftsmanship and quality when comparing the two.
Lego China and Asia Pacific’s vice president Robin Smith said the products could pose a safety concern for consumers, Xinhua reported.
Foreign companies in China have long expressed dissatisfaction about intellectual property enforcement because of the prevalence of counterfeiting. The AFP reports the raid was a move by China to double down on intellectual property infringements, possibly in an attempt to ease trade tensions with Washington.
Xinhua reported that the number of intellectual property rights trials in Shanghai hit a record high last year.
Lepin’s website says it will continue selling all remaining sets, but will not restock in the future.