Lepin were actually brilliant manufacturers of "LEGO Bricks"
Okay, that's a tabloid headline just to grab your attention!
Lets start this post in an upbeat kind of way... we all love LEGO! fact, its indisputable, its part of our childhood and it will be part of our children's childhood as well. Nostalgia runs deep with this one.
Mega Bloks and Best-Lock.
More recently China has had a huge rise in "Rip-Off" brands that are literally trying to pass themselves off as LEGO. We're talking about the big bad Lepin company!
LEGO logo on there and no one would tell the difference. They proved that it is possible to bring the part to price ratio down (Queue R&D argument) and even included stickers!
You see the problem is Lepin became the buzz word for every brand that was not LEGO, regardless of what brick IP they were producing.
All over the world you will find Plastic Brick brands doing their own thing, sometimes its good and sometimes its bad.The problem is Lepin copied and they were blatant about it. Now what would have happened if they didn't copy, didn't infringe on the LEGO copyright? What would have happened if they legitimately came up with their own IP and it was good? To answer these questions we don't need to go far, not very far at all in fact.
Names like Sluban, Xingbao, Oxford Block, Royal Toys, Panlos and Xipoo are doing wonderful things, original things, good things, their own things!
They are all working to the same scale and are interchangeable with each other; and of course they are compatible with LEGO.
We have to remember that LEGO doesn't own the copyright on building bricks, in fact this was proven in court. The Lego Group has attempted to trademark the studded appearance of the Lego brick, hoping to stop production of Mega Bloks. On 24 May 2002, the Federal Court of Canada dismissed the case, asserting the design is functional and therefore ineligible for trademark protection. The Lego Group's appeal was dismissed by the Federal Court of Appeal on 14 July 2003. In October 2005, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that "Trademark law should not be used to perpetuate monopoly rights enjoyed under now-expired patents" and held that Mega Bloks can continue to manufacture their bricks. (Thanks Wikipedia).
Lets look at the argument another way. Hotwheels are not the only toy car brand, Barbie is not the only doll, Airfix are not the only model kit company, Ford are not the only car builders. Every sector has its competition, it drives innovation and product development. Its how business works.
Okay, so in summary there are factories out there that are playing by the rules and genuinely doing great things. Lets embrace it, use it to enhance the building hobby. Lets not be brand snobs lets all play nice and remember it is only a toy. Check out Brickchan.com for your alternative bricks.