Trunki loses long running design case

09 March 2016

The Supreme Court has today handed down a judgment that ends the long-running battle between the Bristol-based designer of the Trunki ride-on suitcase, Magmatic, and the Hong Kong-based producer of the competing Kiddee case, PMS International. Despite noting that the Trunki product seems to have been both “original and clever”, the Supreme Court has unanimously confirmed the earlier decision of the Court of Appeal and found that the Kiddee product did not infringe Magmatic’s EU registered design.

While undoubtedly a disappointing outcome for Magmatic, the case is a welcome clarification of the position in the UK and shows that care needs to be taken in how you protect designs. However, if you do use the registration system appropriately, it can offer strong protection for new designs.

The judgment confirms that registered design law does not protect an idea or invention, but only the specific design as shown in the drawings of the registration. The scope of protection varies depending on whether the drawings are, for example, simple line drawings or 3D computer assisted design (CAD) drawings which show features other than shape, such as contrasting shading or colour.

Trunki Mark I and Kiddee Case

The judgment reminds designers of a number of important facets of the design registration system. For example, an applicant may use any images which he or she chooses to show the design, and he or she may also submit any number of design applications for variations on the same product. Design registration is inexpensive and, when used properly, the system allows for multi-layered protection of product designs. Design-focussed companies should review their IP protection strategy in light of the judgment and ensure they are putting the design registration system to best use within the overall context of their business.

Our Expert
Michael Conway
Michael Conway
Location: Bristol (UK)

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