September 5, 2018
A specialized intellectual property court in the eastern city of Hangzhou has fined a Chinese company for copyright infringement after it produced toy kitchen sets bearing the image of Peppa Pig, a popular cartoon character.
The judge, Ye Shengnan, found that Shantou-based Jiale Toys Industrial had produced Peppa Pig products beyond the scope and after the expiry of the licence granted by British companies Entertainment One and Astley Baker Davis Limited, the co-owners of the copyright. The owners had registered Peppa Pig and three other characters from the franchise with China’s State Intellectual Property Office in 2014.
The case has been hailed as a landmark ruling in light of the perception that Chinese manufacturers have historically shown a disregard for intellectual property rights. Ye, the judge in the case, noted that the ruling is particularly significant because many previous copyright infringement matters in China have settled without producing precedent to guide courts in the future.
The court granted an injunction ordering Jiale to cease and desist production of the toys, and imposed fines both on Jiale and on another company which sold the products online through Alibaba Group’s Taobao marketplace.
The cartoon character is enormously popular in China, where consumers can purchase a variety of Peppa-themed products. A company plans to open a Peppa Pig amusement park later this year in Shanghai.
Following tensions with Western trading partners, China has taken steps to strengthen enforcement of intellectual property protections, including through the establishment of dedicated IP courts.
Author: Wes Dutcher-Walls