A toy manufacturer has been fined for producing Peppa Pig themed kitchen sets for children, in what has been described as a landmark ruling for the protection of IP rights in China.
It has been highlighted as a warning to the “chaotic market, and the first ruling on production copyright infringement, by the ruling judge Ye Shengnan, who heard the case in the eastern city of Hangzhou.
In a statement, the British company behind the children’s television series, Entertainment One, welcomed the verdict as sending “the right message to the market about copyright protection.”
Jufan Limited of Shantou was discovered to be selling a toy kitchen set decorated with Peppa Pig images via its shop in Alibaba Group Holding’s Taobao Marketplace. The kitchen set was made by the Shantou-based Jiale Toys Industrial.
“This case is a landmark in the way that it serves as a warning to the chaotic market, and it’s the first ruling on production copyright infringement,” said Ye.
“These two companies have brought many lawsuits before, but these cases usually ended up being settled.”
At Monday’s trial at Hangzhou Internet Court, set up last year for the adjudication of e-commerce and internet-related disputed, the judge ruled that Peppa Pig and her family were distinct artistic characters protected by IP rights.
Ye fined the producer, Jiale, 120,000 yuan and the sales company Jufan, 30,000 yuan.
Taobao removed the link to the shop retailing the counterfeit item.
“We appreciate Taobao’s support in proactively monitoring and removing infringing product listings, as well as the offline investigations it has launched to crack down on bad actors and trace their unlawful activities back to their source,” said Oliver Dumont, president of family and brands at Entertainment One.
A spokesman for Tabao added: “We respect the court’s verdict and are gratified that it recognised our strong efforts in protecting IP. We remain committed to best practice in IP rights enforcement through partnership with brands and rights owners based on mutual trust.
“Taobao and Entertainment One have established a close cooperation and will continue to work together.”
In its 2017 annual report on IP protection, Alibaba said it had made strides towards stopping internet fakes and supporting intellectual property protection.