Police raid Lepin factory; owner arrested

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Here's some good news that I first read on The Brick Fan:

Shanghai police has posted on Weibo that
"[we] successfully destroyed the criminal gang suspected of infringing the copyright of the “Lego” brand, arrested four suspects headed by Li [the company owner], and smashed production and packaging. 3 warehouses, warehouses, etc., more than 10 assembly lines, more than 90 production molds, nearly 200,000 manuals, more than 200,000 packaging boxes, more than 630,000 finished products, more than 200 million yuan ."

Will that be the end of the brand? It certainly sounds like it will have an impact on the company's ability to churn out its copyright-infringing clones but I guess time will tell.

You can view more pictures of the squalid and filthy operation after the break.

There's more squalor to be seen on Weibo and if you have any of the stuff in your collection I suggest you dispose of it quickly then thoroughly wash your hands.

133 comments on this article

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By in United States,

What great news! These intellectual crooks have been operating with impunity for way too long, blatantly ripping off Lego in product and design.

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By in Netherlands,

Good, very good. Hope an end to these imposters and thieving individuals.

Btw: Squalid? Gotta love the English language! :)

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By in Australia,

Great news! Do we have any confirmation that this is 100% true? Also, sorry Lego and all Lego fans, but I just had to laugh at The Lepin Movie 2. Imagine a Lepin copy of the actual Lego movie!

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By in United States,

PRC for IPR? Respect! I'm shocked, but humbled & delighted.

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By in United Kingdom,

I thought today was good with Avengers Endgame tickets, but this news makes it an excellent day!!

No doubt another factory will spring up somewhere in the merk of the China factory smoke.. but this is sending the right signal to the crooks!

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By in Finland,

Ah, victory.

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By in Germany,

Just 90 molds? Means this was just a small warehouse raid. Lepin must have dozens of much bigger factories that still operate considering how many different parts a typical set has. So this news is just police propaganda but a good start nevertheless. They need to catch the big fish.
Seems TLG made an impact with Shanghai and Beijing store openings and the lawsuits. Now they can start to expand their empire.

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By in Germany,

I am afraid others will come into it's place. Still, well done.

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By in Australia,

"the criminal gang suspected of infringing the copyright" What a strange description of them. I mean its true, but its certainly not something you see every day

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By in United Kingdom,

Nice to see Chinese authorities actually bothering with international copyright law for once rather then blatently ignoring it as they have with the many other products they've stolen IP on.

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By in Canada,

I hope they'll recycle all of the tons and tons of paper and plastic, and not just throw them away.

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By in Australia,

Unfortunately to seriously combat piracy in China, Lego needs to engage in some sorts of brand awareness campaigns, since a large consumer base of counterfeit Lepin bricks are either parents who don't know any better, or poorer families to whom Lego products are considered luxuries outside their wage range. Lego can at least do something about the former, not to mention the lack of quality and hazards of counterfeit toys such as toxicity. Kids growing up in developing countries generally don't have the luxury of having toy store chains selling legit toys or even established toy brands, and most of the toys I had growing up in China were either no name or counterfeit brands.

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By in United States,

China is adhering to its court system. The arrest demonstrates that the legal system is working for Lego. They sued in China and they have won in China.

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By in Australia,

When is The Lepin Bricks 2 movie coming out? Can't wait to see the adventures of Gremmet and Wildstix.

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By in Finland,

Sometimes the LEGO hobby can be very exciting and hectic. I mean, like, actual police arrests? Thrilling!

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By in Ireland,

About time...this is great news, hopefully the first of many such raids.

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By in United Kingdom,

While the crackdown is good news generally, I hope the shutdown is done with dignity. I imagine that the people lined up during the raid are possibly just low paid workers. They may not even be aware that they are part of an illegal venture. The people who need to be arrested are those who make money out of the scheme.

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By in Hungary,

Dear All, including LEPIN & LEGO fans,
I do not support theft of intellectual property of others. I do not stealing others' innovation is sold by our production.

But I do not support overpricing!!!! what LEGO does. I think it is too much hype with branded sets, losing a real building experience (which was the 90's) - In the 2000s the World City themes had oversized and more-simplified sets, and there were no real building joy. I think, price, construction joy, not in harmony with each other. See new Creator (C.Expert) sets. ((old sets (2 yrs or older) could be much cheaper, sold via lego webstore. But this financial economical model not compatible with capitalism & extraprofit))
Lepin's fault with 1: 1 copying is clear - but not the fault of "very similar" product release (as I know the protection of bricks expired). I mean there is a 2000-pcs set from LEGO, and LEPIN copies the bricks, but NOT the whole set - but accidentally a very similar model comes out of the bricks. It could be stealing innovation or not?

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By in Australia,

I can't stop imagining the Hardy Boys successful cracking this case. After getting kidnapped and roughed up, at least once or twice.

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By in United Kingdom,

About time. Very glad this has happened. I hope TLG can protect their IP more effectively in China and elsewhere from now on.

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By in United Kingdom,

Actually a bit of a shame that it's gone down this route.

Wait, hear me out!

The best thing LEGO could do is license their old, OOP sets for a willing company (it seems one already exists!) to manufacture & distribute for sale to people who missed out and who don't want to pay scalpers' prices. I am certain that I'm not alone on here at having being very, very close to buying Lepin copies of sets that go for silly money.

If such a LEGO\Lepin arrangement ensures that it doesn't impinge upon sales of current LEGO sets, where is the harm?

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By in Netherlands,

As a LEGO Star Wars fan this is great news! Making brick models is one thing but they just stole everything from LEGO, the designs, art, etc.
I own the 75192 Falcon and know a few people that have "the same one" but from Lepin, which is just a cheap rip-off.

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By in United Kingdom,

If Lego kept its prices down. Collectors / buyers would buy more genuine Lego. But there are those who can't afford it for themselves or for their kids. I dont agree with copyright but lepin and other copycats paid Lego contributions for there designs. Then maybe it will keep everyone happy & profitable. DC & Marvel Lego are great but not enough minifigures. With the copycats they made all sorts of Minifigures for DC & Marvel. I like the bigfigs. Think about others who are less unfortunate can't buy Lego.

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By in United Kingdom,

Good job! Looks like a badly organized mess too on the pics. Some shabby basement company!

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By in United Kingdom,

The comments about pricing ?
People will pirate a 10p item (& others will buy it.)

Interesting use of emotive language in the article- new career in red top newspaper journalism? :-)

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By in United Kingdom,

lets hope Lego REDUCE the price on their sets as a token to us all - real customers.

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By in United States,

Wow! This is awesome!! :D Go Police people!!! :D At least something is being done! :D:)

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By in United States,

Hell yeah!

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By in United Kingdom,

Maybe a contender for the police sub-theme next year? Counterfeit Warehouse Raid would make a nice set

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By in United Kingdom,

Wow! Seeing the conditions that Lepin products are made, I hate them even more than I did before. Go Shanghai Police!

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By in Netherlands,

Next big City police set will hopefully be 'Factory Raid'.

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By in United States,

This has been building for quite some time, but Pepin exploited a market that was saturated with high prices and so long as Lego and it's partners keep making this setup others will seek to exploit it. In time I always welcome competition, but not dishonest competition.

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By in Switzerland,

There is presumption that people who bought lepin would buy instead Lego if lepin ceased to exist. I am not sure that a lot of families can afford Lego so easily. I'm personally focusing on Lego original as collecting minifigures but I know that Lego is for some families simply out of their price range and instead of Chinese clones will just get some other toy instead.

Good to see that China adheres to IP laws but Lego needs to rethink if this constant price inflating is just alienates a lot of young customers. Even minifigs in my country has more than doubled in price from series one to today's series.

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By in Belgium,

I hope they were all wearing a red sweater and a black or dark gray hat, while being surrounded by helicopters...

Pretty weird to find all this defending of Lepin in the comments though.

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By in United Kingdom,

From the UK based comments you can see some people here love their cheap, counterfeit, lower quality items.
Now about that EU backstop...

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By in United States,

While this is definitely good news for Lego and Lego fans, including myself, I just can’t help but feel the destruction was a bit to far. I may be happy that Lepin has seen what happens for counterfeiting Lego, but the actions of destroying all of their stuff seems a bit too violent. Talk about being “master breakers”.

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By in United States,

Yay! Justice is served! The Lepin Movie 2? Yecch...

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By in Australia,

I would never sully my collection with product that rips off LEGO IP in the way Lepin does.
I own some BrickArms, some BrickForge and various custom prints on real LEGO pieces (e.g. Citizen Brick) but all of those complement LEGO rather than competing with it.

Be nice if the scumbags running this show ended up in a hellhole jail for a few years (or decades) to act as a deterrent.

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By in Netherlands,

Looks like it's time to spend my money on Lepin, this will be worth a whole lot of money in a short time... ;)
At last they do something about these rip off companies!!!

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By in United Kingdom,

Truly fantastic news! Really hoping some of those sham operations that offer crazy reduced LEGO sets via Facebook ads, can be shut down, too! Great work to all involved bringing these guys down!

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By in United Kingdom,

What about BELA? Those are the ones that knock-off the Friends theme. Alibaba should be prosecuted also for advertising and selling this rubbish.

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By in United States,

I get this is our passion, and these people were technically criminals, but the word usage in the article and comments is a bit overboard, no?

Let's keep some perspective: they sold cheap copies of toys; they weren't murderers or rapists.

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By in United States,

I would say that this whole story, and the accompanying pictures, is typical staged Chinese propaganda. The earnest police man gesticulating to the completely passive faces of the "criminals" is almost assuredly a puppet show. Reminds me of photos that come out of North Korea. Fake news to demonstrate fake following of the law.
Lepin is without a doubt an illegal operation, but I will say that their minifigures don't crack like the Lego ones do. The printing rubs off, the heads often fit loosely and slide right off, and the hands often don't fit in the arms, but they don't crack. Lego could learn a lesson in plastic integrity from this squalid gang of criminals.

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By in Hungary,

Good.

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By in Serbia,

I fully support the right of legit Chinese building block companies to create original building sets. I'll never buy them, but this is legit business and fills a niche for people who cannot afford lego.

Lepin and other parasites are scum of the earth who should burn. And no, Lego cannot just license out their older stuff - it would forever harm their brand image since they would not be able to control quality and perception would be that it's their product. Anyone who visits a TLG factory will see piles of perfectly good parts sitting in boxes waiting to be sent for recycling due to suspected flaws or perhaps even due to suspected contact with humans. Think licensees would do the same?

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By in United States,

I bet there are actually a bunch of members of this site who are clinging to their lepin collection in tears right now.

Me? Well I’m happy.

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By in Australia,

Token effort at most

Meanwhile Alibaba continues to sell them.....

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By in United States,

@nerzhin
What are you doing to your minifigures!? In well over a decade of collecting, I've only had one minifigure part break. (A dark red torso) Now, if you want to criticize the brittleness of reddish brown parts, I'm totally on board, but Lego's minifigs are sturdy.

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By in United States,

Lego Minifigures are garbage. The printing alone is so bad that a lot of knockoffs look better. But not only that but the clutch power of the head, legs and arms have dramatically gone downhill in the last several years.

Also the part with the 90 molds in the article. How can they stop the molds? LEGO bricks are really copy written anymore. Look at all the legal copycat companies.

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By in Canada,

Hmmm... Lepinworld is still open for business .... but I'm sure someone thought about checking their website... right?

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By in United States,

Police raid Lepin factory; owner arrested

Never have a got so excited over an article title.

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By in United States,

To quote Director Krennic... "Oh, it's beautiful."

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By in United States,

Wow... please let this be the end of lepin!

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By in Netherlands,

Ooh come on! You are not all that naive, are you?!
Intellectual property infringement, and copyright theft is rampant in China, and the Chinese government facilitates it, and allows it. This is just a public relations stunt, even if these Lepin people will rot away in a prison somewhere for the remainder of their lives. More Lego ripoff brands will continue to pop-up and flourish. But hey! Western companies just feel compelled to enter the Chinese market, even if this leads to corporate espionage and the afore mentioned problems of IP & copyright theft etc. as well as restrictions and requirements by the Chinese government with the goal of obtaining all the know-how of these western corporations.

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By in United States,

Drug cartels in Mexico pull this same stunt. Let the cops make a small bust (compared to the whole operation.) then pressure is off. Do not be fooled, just keep choosing to buy legally... or be part of the problem.

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By in United States,

I'm failing to see from those four photos where you're seeing "squalor" or filth. It looks about the same as any other factory mold/jig room and packing room in the region. It's not a medical clean room or an electronics assembly room. It's a plastics production factory's back office, so to speak. The comment stands out as the author's inexperience with the facilities of production for modern injection-molded plastics consumer goods. :)

As far as the product itself, I've never owned or held any, but judging by Youtube reviews it was an inferior product that also stole from Lego IP, so I'm good with their demise. I won't rejoice in the downfall of others as I'm not bloodthirsty, but I am rather pleased to see fake Lego be taken off the market.

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By in United States,

Some people move on (from copyright infringement), but not us.

We are in the endgame now!

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By in Germany,

took them long enough

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By in Austria,

What a strangy story. You can find Lepin in toy stores all over Asia and it's implausible that such a small operation could produce the necessary volumes. Also, the company producing Lepin is publicly traded - hardly a "gang". The photos make it look like they run it out of some garage. I'd expect a professional factory with sophisticated logistics.

I guess you all are right: This is just some bogus propaganda.

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By in Poland,

on the other hand, many of the innocent people who worked in this factory lost their jobs, that s sad

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By in United Kingdom,

So... The Chinese have gone from defending the copyright crooks in court to destroying their workers' livelihoods? Hmm...
And this can't be over. No doubt that Lepin has dozens such bases in every main Chinese city and that there are still plenty of copyright-infringing executives and exploitable workers out there.

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By in United States,

@David1985: The patent for the stud-and-tube brick lapsed in the late 80s, and we can probably safely assume that many other older basic parts are likewise no longer protected by patents. But LEGO still has active patent protections on many of their newer elements, including:
• the roller coaster system
• Duplo Push-And-Go train motors
• Juniors/4+ interlocking base plates
• Super Jumpers
• Airjitzu spinners and launchers
• Stud shooters
• Speedorz
• the inside support ridges on many modern bricks: https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/09/28/01/55284c039d03d0/WO2014009345A1.pdf
• the Character and Creature Building System: https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/66/41/e6/1b4b57c485d7df/WO2012052541A1.pdf
• design patents on various mini-doll elements: e.g. https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/87/1c/69/2fcfa3ef7061fa/USD672412.pdf, https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/4d/e1/68/d88d735cb69459/USD689568.pdf, and https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/80/9f/af/224f485bc49d95/USD675683.pdf
• design patents on various building elements: e.g. https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/f0/ce/4b/2ede349e83d6ad/USD830477.pdf, https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/e4/8b/c1/fcffae18379ce4/USD771200.pdf, https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/95/55/82/e43296abc8ec3c/USD757861.pdf, https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/b4/d6/66/1245ad0780087e/USD614707.pdf, vhttps://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/33/09/a2/d7c3a39d27fe44/USD688328.pdf, etc.

Suffice to say, there are probably a LOT of parts Lepin has produced that infringed on active, protected patents.

@1947andallthat: The Chinese government protects Chinese businesses. Now that LEGO has their own factory and regional headquarters in China that employ thousands of workers, they ARE a Chinese business.

Which businesses do you think China would rather focus on protecting: the massive and prestigious multi-national corporation that has invested massive amounts of money in establishing a presence in China, and has a strong PR incentive to adhere to government regulations? Or the shady knock-off manufacturer that gives the country a bad reputation and clearly has no issue violating laws and regulations in order to cut costs?

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By in United States,

@yacoub.. If this was a plant manufacturing engine parts or flexible conduit I would agree with you, but they're making toys that probably end up in or near children's mouths. At the very least they play with them then rub their eyes/ nose/ face. Some of those pics look like a greasy grimy auto garage.

(Gotta admit though, as a person who enjoys making things it's interesting that the molds were partially fabricated using wood blocks as opposed to TLG's insanely precision machined all metal molds)

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By in Ukraine,

Finally! Hope to see the end of these clones.
But I think that 1947andallthat is also right...

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By in United States,

Also, regarding Lego prices.. They don't have a monopoly on bread, milk and cheese. I don't personally care for Megablox, but they're at least a legal company with their own designs and less expensive. I can't afford a BMW so I have a Ford Focus. So what. The world doesn't owe you anything. Toys used to be made of sticks bound together.

Rant over =D

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By in United Kingdom,

I wonder how this will affect independent toy stores in Asia, if at all? When I was living in Hong Kong, I saw countless small family-run toy stores selling knock-off Lego. Will they still be able to survive against large chain-stores and malls if they can't sell a 'competing' (albeit illegal) product?

In the same way that small independent toy stores have disappeared from the market-place / high-street in the West, perhaps these are all destined to fade-out too. Has the success of Lego hailed the demise of small toy stores that can't access distribution rights or afford the capital to purchase Lego in the first-place to sell-on?

When Lego wins, someone loses...

I don't believe the answer is condoning illegal copies, but what can large companies like Lego do to give back to the indigenous markets they are seeking to profit from? I guess I want to know what Lego considers as it's 'corporate responsibility' strategy. I'm sure they have one somewhere.

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By in United States,

This is very good news for TLG.
We all hope that after this battle won and hard experience, the products of lego now are better packaged and less expensive so that they can be more accessible and not only exclusive of the wealthy people as they have been up to now.

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By in United States,

I always found it amusing that they'd slightly change the names and logos, as if that was going to somehow keep them safe. "What? Star Wars? No, no, you've mis-read it, it's 'Star Wart' see? Would never infringe on someone's copyright like that!"

@bananaworld I was thinking the same thing. Not so much that Lego should license to these guys (the quality would not be where it needs to be), but I admit to being tempted by a KO Emerald Night. Without them being put back into production, there's no way I'll ever be able to have that set.

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By in United States,

FINALLY

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By in United States,

Justice is served!

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By in United States,

I just came here to see all of the arm-chair and google lawyers that think they know everything.

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By in Norway,

VERY unsure about all this. On one hand Lepin is a shady operation ripping off Lego's models, box art and some active patents, and personally I wouldn't have anything to do with such knock-offs even if I got them for free. On the other hand, today's "intellectual property" (aargh, what a grating term!) rules are totally out of whack. I can accept 20-year regular and 15-year design patents, the problems comes with 95+ year copyrights and ever-lasting trademarks.

The main issue with copyrights are that terms has became WAY too long, and has in essence became infinite due to the "Mickey Mouse" principle of extending them every time Steamboat Willie is about to enter public domain. This is a far more serious problem than not being able to watch old Disney movies for free, like how it prevents re-use of old works to create something new, "orphaned works" risking getting lost, constant undermining of the "fair use" principle and how EVERY part of recent (and not-so-recent) culture is the private property of some corporation that can do anything they want with it, including changing it beyond recognition or refusing distribution at any price.

Trademarks has also became troublesome, as they in essence has became ever-lasting patents. A trademark is supposed to be just that, a protection of the identification of a product's origin. In Lego's case that would include the "Lego" name, the red square logo, and the stamping of the word LEGO on the studs. Unfortunately companies has lobbied for over-extending the definition of a "trademark" to also including the design of the product itself, which really is the domain of utility and design patents. So when Lego claims the design of the minifigure (and even the 2x4 brick!) to be a trademark, I'd say that's Grade A Bullshit and should be opposed at any opportunity.

So while I do agree that creative efforts deserve reasonable protection from getting ripped off, the key word is "reasonable" and today's rules are far from that. Unfortunately politicians and the public have been totally sold by the tear-jerking image of the starving artist or hard-working inventor getting denied fair compensation for their work, while in truth most patents and copyrights are owned by massive megacorporations and used to fortify their power. As things stands I really think we actually need some countries/regions with a laxer attitude towards "intellectual property" - while it may not be "right" in legal or moral sense it also acts a necessary safety valve against global corporate domination.

BTW, only the first picture (the one on with the blue and brown crates) actually loads, the other four just shows up as "broken".

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By in Germany,

Now that took some time.. Good news.

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By in United States,

Time for the Thanos Snap and dog with infinite assist trophies (Isabelle from SSBU Pre 2.0.0) to attack them lol.

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By in Romania,

It's a sweet, sweet, sweet victory, yeah!

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By in Canada,

"Burn them", "Victory", "happy day", "kill their offsprings". Such emotional comments here, for a company that produced counterfeit toys. Why is that ? What's the reason for the joy ? Are you investing in Lego stocks ? Can't enjoy original sets regardless of their after market value? I think it's legit that they're pursuing them, but don't understand the demand to see blood from you guys here in the comments.

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By in United States,

@axeleng, that’s some strong koolaid that you’re drinking there.

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By in United States,

translation seems off

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By in United States,

I've been waiting for this day.

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By in United Kingdom,

Send them to the stocks! xD

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By in New Zealand,

The mighty Empire destroys a small Rebel outpost and claims victory. I've got a baaaad feeling about this....

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By in Sweden,

Not really seeing any reason to cheer or express much of any emotion at this, really. what does this change?

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By in United States,

I anxiously await the 1,000 piece LEGO set depicting the LEPIN bust! Minifigs flee the scene as the handcuffs are trucked in. They can call it "Squalid Factory".

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By in United States,

Shame they didn't find a business model that didn't infringe on lego's designs. I had hoped they'd turn towards licensing and selling mocs.

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By in United States,

Crime doesn't pay, kiddos.

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By in France,

Good news. Hope it will lead to cheaper Legos now (because less money to be spent by Lego to fight counterfeit products).

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By in Australia,

Its a real shame to see people defending Lepin. Good on the police for destroying their evil activities! Remember, if this was going on in say, Europe (or Australia for that matter) , the police wouldnt be allowed to raid the place because that would be 'racist' and the perpetrators would all get off because they had 'a troubled childhood' or 'depression' or 'demons told them to do it'.

Its about time law enforcement (of any country) set an example to criminal swines. You commit a serious offence, you get seriously punished and your stuff destroyed. All Lepin profits should be confiscated and divided 50/50 between Lego (to be distributed among employees) and the Chinese government (to be distributed to people in need).

And about the workers being arrested. They knew what they were doing. There are plenty of poor/disadvantaged people in the world who always do the right thing so we shouldnt take pity on those who chose to do wrong.

Also, maybe the 2020 Fake Lego Squad City police theme could include a Lego Jackie Chan! Perhaps the theme could be called Police Story....

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By in United States,

@chewron99,

The cost we pay for sets arrives from more than the cost to make parts. The cost to design new parts, also to research possible new designs, topics, themes, and public wants is part of set cost.

Lepin was able to sell sets at such a low price because they carried out no intellectual research for their product. They simply made bricks that allowed them to copy Lego designs.

Lego has a higher cost due to the design and development. Lego will not continue to sell (as you described older sets at lower cost) because those sets actually become unwanted by buyers.

Yes, we AFOL fanatics would buy them, but the cost to store, inventory, and maintain out-of-date sets would actually make selling older sets very expensive.

Many countries apply taxes to any industry that produces product for both their unsold items and the supplies they own to make future product.

You described Lego as attempting to make major profits when other options could exist. Sadly, what you described is not very possible. Lego could not just produce sets and sell them at a lower price years later. The cost to store - and the taxation of stored items - allows for only the current model of business to apply for a business the size of Lego.

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By in Netherlands,

@axeleng in Norway, 26 Apr 2019 19:34
Excellent response, I wholeheartedly agree with that comment you wrote.

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By in United Kingdom,

Good.

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By in United States,

Yay!

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By in Thailand,

For How Long ?
And What Lego plan for asian market ? Which is main market of fake Lego ?

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By in New Zealand,

Get well soon Lepin.(^o^)

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By in United States,

I can't help but feel for the workers-- both those in the factory and those who researched and recreated designs-- who now have to hope to find another job. Just because they worked there doesn't mean they knew about, or supported if they did, Lepin's calculated theft of intellectual property.

We can be glad the thieves are, at least on some level, brought down, but to take pleasure in what has happened to the workers is cruel and demonstrates a lack of empathy as well as highlights one's own security and privilege, one's luck at being born into circumstances that make such a life unimaginable, or the luck of being part of a culture that, for those not immediately born into such a life, supports making one's way there (typically at great cost and effort for the person striving to improve their situation, but that's another discussion).

Play well, wish well. There's no harm in not wishing harm, is there?

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By in United States,

Dear Lego,

Please stop producing in China until they clean up their act (if ever). China claims that the entity behind Lepin is a "criminal gang" which is complete BS. Of course it was a well financed and well known company to China, but the Chinese government finally decided to act and distance themselves from Lepin once LEGO got tough and threatened to move their production back to other less shady countries.

China doesn't deserve to make money off the West's best and most creative entities until it respects the copyrighted ideas of others. I'd be happy to pay an extra buck or even an extra 10% on Lego knowing they weren't produced in China, but unfortunately I think for most consumers nothing matters other than a low price. Hopefully I'm wrong and more have a conscience about the circumstances behind the products that they purchase than I think.

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By in United States,

The Big Legoski: Dead on my friend. China most certainly condones what Lepin was allowed to do. If China was to get rid of all of the copyright infringing companies that it knew about it's economy would tank more than it has already. This bust is the typical play by any regime in trouble: pull a publicity stunt to defer attention of it's endemic issues.

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By in Australia,

@dtobin123

Well said, agreed. It would appear Im not the only one who has noticed that Lego is putting too much effort into getting into the Chinese market, a market already clogged with fake ripoff brands and whose government doesnt care about IP. Plus it just so happens that at the time Lego moves into the Chinese market (including building factories there) Lego knock-off brands just so happen to start to get some grip on the market and 'magically' happen to be able to copy Lego sets within a day of their official release or even before.

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By in {Unknown country},

Knockoff sets will still exist, but the days of blatant copying and reproduction of identical box art are over. They now have to be a bit more creative.

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By in China,

The link in the article leads to Weixin(or WeChat) which is a social media developed by tech giant Tencent and it's the most popular social media in China. Weibo is a copycat of Twitter developed by Sina.

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By in Australia,

Finally, after all this time, The day has come

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By in United Kingdom,

@dtobin
Completely agree. As a whole, China must crack down on these counterfeit brands and realise the value of money.

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By in United Kingdom,

Clever of the Chinese police to "uncover" something we've all being seeing and talking about for years.

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By in Thailand,

@dtobin123

Yeah, Lepin is own by is Guangdong Loongon. One of big China toy company (that Probably back up by China Government).

Ofc,Police not gonna raid them since it's would destroy their economy.

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By in Germany,

I have to admit I have my doubts as to
a) the sincerity of the Chinese authorities
b) the effectiveness of this "raid"

Why?

For a start, Chinese authorities in general don't seem to give a rat's behind about companies that infringe on Western copyrights. If they were, there wouldn't be blatant copies of almost everything from Rubic's Cubes to BMW SUVs in abundance in China and - through sales platforms like AliExpress - all over the world.

Second, while the numbers mentioned sound impressive at first glance, what is 90 moulds in comparison to the hundreds or even thousands of different moulds they must have in order to copy all those LEGO sets?

And lastly, what about the moles in the TLG organization who gave Lepin the information about upcoming sets in order for them to be able to bring copies to market just as fast or even faster than TLG themselves, like with the Aston Martin, the new Mustang, the Creator Expert Rollercoaster, UCS Hogwarts Castle etc.? They copied those right down to every page of the manual and delivered them before TLG had officially released those sets. How else would that be possible?

I guess those people that now got arrested just failed to pay the usual bribes to the authorities in time.

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By in United States,

@AustinPowers "How else would that be possible?" Computer hacking.

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By in United States,

Ah... Lepin. The scumbags who try to steal sales from LEGO. I'm really happy about all this. Lepin is 110% scum.

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By in United States,

Ah... Lepin. The scumbags who try to steal sales from LEGO. I'm really happy about all this. Lepin is 110% scum.

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By in United States,

This is great. Now there will be no more confusion between official and knock off 'Star Wars' sets. I hope others that sell fake lego mini figures see this and get rid of them. I see fakes at conventions quite a bit.

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By in United States,

yay

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By in Italy,

What I'm asking myself is how come it took so long for the police to bust these crooks... Better late than never.

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By in United States,

This is long past due. I thought they were to be shut down last year after LEGO won the court battle. It is amazing what they have been allowed to get away with. Hopefully this is the real end to their theft.

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By in United States,

So what about all the sets already manufactured by Lepin and in the wild, and the Lepin sets bought that will be resold at some point? These aren't going away anytime soon.

Be on the look out and stay vigilant. No mercy to counterfeiters. Belay misguided choices.

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By in United States,

Well, there go my chances to snag a Queen Watevra Wa'nakapi Not-So-Original Space Palace.

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By in United States,

Sad the strong arm of the law has won. For now.

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By in United States,

The Lepin operation looks pretty hobo. Some of those workers look like kids too.

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By in {Unknown country},

@AustinPowers, I disagree. This raid cuts off the head -- even the owner is arrested.

This is a direct result of the court ruling last October. Most people dismissed it because it was "only" for 18 sets. What was missed was that the court ruled that the Lepin logo was too close to Lego, and that the finished models fall under Copyright protection. With that, the Police could go after Lepin. There is no more gray area.

There will still be KO sets in the future, but the days of blatant copying and identical box art are over.

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By in United States,

@Aanchir:
New mechanical changes are patented. New shapes are copyrighted. So, while all of the patents you linked to are certainly patented, and new classes of elements like the roller coaster track probably are as well, the majority of new elements simply expand existing functionality. New hairstyles for minifigs shouldn't qualify for patent protection except maybe the S4 Punk Rocker's rubber mohawk (that utilized a completely new, and never repeated connection design). They would, however, qualify for copyright protection as new artistic works, which is supported by the fact that they've been going to great lengths to add copyright notice to every element, no matter how tiny and illegible the text ends up being.

@axeleng:
Trademark is about protecting brand identity. Without it, any tiny bit of success would be buried under a deluge of copycats milking someone else's good name. Without it, products like the LEGO brick would never be able to exist because any company that invested money in developing its brand would be at a disadvantage to the companies that just copy their name and slap it on shoddy garbage.

They did try to trademark the 2x4 brick when the patents expired, but they've been shot down in court on that as the basic brick was deemed too basic to qualify for trademark protection. The minifig, on the other hand, they use to an insane degree to market their product, and all you have to do is look at what the various clone brands have come up with for their own minifig equivalents to see that it's entirely possible to create a diverse range of distinct minifig designs without everyone just downloading a copy of the LEGO patent filing and handing it off to their mold-making department.

Copyright _has_ been extended to ridiculous lengths, but there hasn't been any movement on increasing it again recently. Consequently, Steamboat Willie is very near to falling into public domain. It's worth noting that, while we heard not a peep about Mickey's 80th anniversary, they promoted the heck out of the 90th last year. The logical reason for why they did this is because Steamboat Willie won't make it to the 100th under copyright protection. That's not to say it's impossible to pull off 100+ years of copyright protection. If an individual (not a company) creates an artistic work at a very young age, they technically enjoy copyright protection (in the US, at least) on that artwork until the day they die. At that point, their estate gets a limited period of copyright protection. With increases in the average lifespan, it would be possible for an individual to publish a commercially successful novel in their late teens/early 20's and actually live long enough to celebrate the 100th anniversary. Copyright that's owned by a company, on the other hand, has a fixed expiration date from the official date of copyright. Without individual ownership, there can't be a lifespan attached.

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By in United Kingdom,

The company's owner was named Li and he didn't name it 'Ligo' ?!
Loving the squalor and fakery.

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By in Germany,

@lippidp: I don't believe TLG would be that easy to hack!

I mean, not after years of blatant copying by Lepin. If TLG really didn't manage to close possible security leaks over a span of several years, that would speak volumes and border on total incompetence in that respect.

I stand by it, they must have had inside help.

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By in Russian Federation,

Very sad news indeed. Until they restart selling I’m boycotting LEGO.

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By in Norway,

Purple Dave - The main problem here is the fuzzy distinctions between utility patent, design patent, copyright and trademark, and how corporate lawyers works tirelessly to push them to their advantage. That Lego tries to copyright specific designs doesn't prove anything other than them trying to get away with it. As you say, the 2x4 trademark has been struck down, yet they STILL tries to push it with the white-on-red 2x4 logo seen on some sets (particularly Creator ones).

When it comes to minifigs - sure, there's more than one way to skin a cat, but if you look at Anthony Tomkins' "Communist Lego" reports ( https://brickset.com/news?query=communist ) you'll see that most alternative/non-infringing designs ranges from "awful" to "utter nightmare fuel" - in essence, Lego's been granted an ever-lasting patent on decent-looking building brick figures. I believe the trademarking of physical objects is supposed to be limited to packaging design - particularly distinctive bottles like the ones for Coca-Cola and Chanel 5, it was never intended for the product itself. Besides, what's the point of registering a design patent at all, if you could register it as a copyright or trademark and enjoy much longer protection?

And when you say it hasn't been any movement to increase copyrights again - well, I'd believe it when I see it, Steamboat Willie still has some years of copyright left. These efforts seems to take place in the shadows only to surface at the last possible moment, seemingly to prevent any opposition to form until it's too late (ref. the "blitzkrieg" tactic). Currently it seems to be a popular strategy to exploit subtle differences in US and EU copyright laws (like the starting point (creation/publication) of the terms) to supposedly "harmonize" the terms with the other side, while actually introducing new differences which then are used to justify the next extension.

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By in Belgium,

Hilary Page was born in 1904 in Sanderstead, England. Along with several partners, Page decided to go into the toy business in 1932. In 1936, he began manufacturing Kiddicraft ‘Sensible’ toys using new injection moulding technology. Among them was an Interlocking Building Cube, for which he received a British patent in 1940.

After WW2, Page designed and produced the Kiddicraft Self-Locking Building Bricks. These were smaller, refined versions of the Interlocking Building Cube. Bricks could be stacked on each other and were held in place by studs on the top. The bricks also featured slits on their side that allowed panel-like doors, windows or cards to be inserted. He patented the basic design, a 2 X 4 studded brick, in 1947. This was later followed by patents for the side slits (1949) and the baseplate (1952), designs featured in exhibits at the Brighton Toy and Model Museum.:

Ole Kirk Christiansen and his son Godtfred became aware of the Kiddicraft brick after examining a sample, and possibly drawings, given to them by the British supplier of the first injection moulding machine they had purchased. Realising their potential, Ole modified the Kiddicraft brick and in 1949 marketed his own version, The Automatic Binding Brick.

Automatic Binding Brick became Lego brick in 1953. So, basically, this means that Lego actually started off as a direct knock-off of Kiddicraft.

Separated from his wife, and with the stress of his business ventures, Page committed suicide in 1957. British Lego Ltd. was set up in late 1959 and the first sets were sold the following year. Lego eventually acquired the rights to Kiddicraft in 1981. In an out-of-court settlement, Lego paid £45,000 to the new owners of Page's company Hestair-Kiddicraft. It subsequently purged all references to Page and Kiddicraft from its published history.

Considering all this, I think it's pretty hypocritical to support LEGO while treating a brand like Lepin as evil. If we look at LEGO's history, one might argue that LEGO is at least as evil, if not more, as Lepin.

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By in Norway,

I believe the "Lego ripped off Kiddicraft" story is at least partially an urban legend - the first lego-like system I know of are the American rubber "Bild-o-Brik"* from 1934. These seems to have been rather short-lived, but were followed by the near-identical and much more successful British "Minibrix" from 1935 (which were sold up to around 1970). The Page "Building Cube" from 1939** looked less like Lego and more like a "stacking bucket" toy, only the 1947 Kiddicraft bricks resembles the legos we know today.

And while the Lego brick certainly were modeled after Kiddicraft ones, they DID acquire a license to do so, they didn't steal the design from Page. Unfortunately the Kiddicraft bricks weren't very successful but I don't think Lego is to blame for this, I'd rather imagine they struggled to compete with the then-established Minibrix - which with their chunky, less "plasticky" feel, larger part selection and more natural colors may have been perceived as a higher quality product, especially for making realistic buildings.

* Maybe we should be glad Bild-o-Brik didn't succeed, I can't see the end of the mockery we'd have to endure for "playing with bildos". And somehow I can't imagine insisting it's "Bild-o-Brik(tm) brand bricks and toys" would help the slightest.

** The pressed-wood "American Brick" was also introduced in 1939, these too bore greater resemblance to current Lego bricks (but had a flatter, wider shape) than Page's Building Cube, in 1946 they started changing to plastic.

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By in United States,

Sad day. Love my nebulon b frigate! :P

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By in Chile,

At least we got The Flying Dutchman from Lepin

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By in United States,

@axeleng:

Steamboat Willie was released in 1928, with the copyright originally scheduled to expire in 1956. There's been some recent noise that, due to failure to comply precisely with the procedure outlined in the 1909 law that established copyright as it stood when Steamboat Willie was released, Disney's original claim to it may be void, but Disney now has the legal muscle to keep that from getting very far.

The 1909 law increased a previous allowance where copyright owners could now apply for a 28 year extension instead of the previous 14. Disney did this, which pushed the expiration out to 1984 without any further action required by Congress.

In 1976, eight years before public domain, Congress passed a new law, which extended copyright to 2003.

In 1998, five years before public domain, Congress passed an extension, which added another 20 years to copyright, keeping Steamboat Willie out of the public domain until January 1st, 2024. It's now just over 4.5 years before copyright expiration happens, and there's been not a peep about passing another extension. One of the arguments presented to justify the most recent extension in the US was that it would match an extension that had passed in the EU, meaning it would correct an imbalance rather than create one. Since the EU hasn't made any noise about that either, extending copyright in the US only would actually create a new imbalance rather than fixing one. So, right now it looks very much like Steamboat Willie will get fall to the public domain just over a month after its 95th anniversary.

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