The Supreme Court has dismissed a registered design infringement case brought by Magmatic against PMS International.
In a judgment handed down on March 9, the Court ruled that the European design registration of Trunki, Magmatic’s ride-on children’s suitcase, was not infringed by PMS’s lookalike product.
According to trade organisation ACID (Anti Copying In Design), during the last three years PMS had produced its own very similar design which it had admitted was inspired by Trunki.
The judgment follows a three-year campaign by Trunki to uphold a July 2013 High Court ruling that Trunki’s European design registration was infringed after it was reversed by the Court of Appeal in March 2014.
Trunki ceo and founder Rob Law commented: “We are devastated and bewildered by this judgment, not just for ourselves but for the huge wave of uncertainty it brings to designers across Britain.
“We created an original product in Trunki and protected it by computer generated registered design – a process used to protect a third of designs across Europe.
“In my honest opinion, the Trunki was wilfully ripped off. We stood up to this behaviour, held it to account and took our case all the way to the highest court in the land – only for the judges to rule that we are not protected against the copy. They’re effectively sending knights into battle without armour.
“The law is meant to be about certainty. But this decision will create chaos and confusion among Britain’s design community, who have relied on a pan-European right which has been in place since 2002.
“There is meant to be parity across Europe. But this decision puts British designers at a distinct disadvantage from our European counterparts, whose Courts have a far more robust approach to infringement.”
ACID ceo Dids Macdonald said: “This plunges design law into an abyss and will foster widespread confusion for UK designers.
“The ability to rely on clearly defined and enforceable intellectual property rights, and in this case a registered Community design right, has been denied and will contribute to design law chaos, allowing those who produce lookalikes a free rein. The Supreme Court’s decision is a sad day for justice and for UK designers.”
Rob Law added: “We’ve now reached the end of the legal process. I’d like to thank everyone who has supported us along the way. Despite all the time, expense and anguish of the past four years, I would do it again as I believe protecting British designers is an essential right if we are to continue to be pioneers on a world stage. I’m just sorry this view isn’t shared by our country’s Supreme Court.”
ACID concluded: “The ups and downs of the Trunki case has made them stronger and more resolute regarding awareness about the value of original design but sadly this result has proved that the law has not been their friend. Commiserations to all the Trunki team but congratulations for raising so much awareness about the moral issue of lookalikes.”
Trunki, Magmatic’s ride-on children’s suitcase