We are saddened to break the news today that The Supreme Court has dismissed the registered design infringement case brought by Trunki’s parent company, Magmatic, against PMS International.
Whilst expressing sympathy for Magmatic and acknowledging that PMS had ‘copied Trunki’, the court ruled that the European design registration of Magmatic’s award-winning ride-on suitcase, was not infringed by PMS’s lookalike product. Experts believe the decision will have far-reaching consequences for Britain’s design community.
The judgment follows a two-year campaign by Trunki to uphold the 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 founder, Rob Law, gained the support of the country’s leading business figures and trade bodies to launch a #ProtectYourDesign campaign calling for the Supreme Court to re-examine the case and grant designers more robust protection. Supporters, who include Sir Terence Conran, Kevin McCloud, Will Butler-Adams, Adam Balon and ACID’s Dids Macdonald, argued that the Court of Appeal decision undermined the rights of hundreds of thousands of creative British design businesses, leaving them open to design infringement.
But the Supreme Court judges disagreed. While ruling on a right that is granted by the European Design Registry and which is intended to provide a level playing field for all design businesses in Europe, the court did not consider that it needed guidance from the European Court of Justice to decide the case, as requested by the Intellectual Property Office.
Trunki founder Rob Law said: “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 willfully 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.
We strongly believe consumers will recognise Trunki as the original ride-on suitcase for children. As the Supreme Court judges themselves said in their judgment: ‘PMS conceived the idea of manufacturing a Kiddee Case as a result of seeing a Trunki’.
Our product quality and consumer reputation, backed by our 5-year guarantee, are convincing reasons for parents to continue entrusting their children to a Trunki. They know we’ll honour their trust.’
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’re to continue to be pioneers on a world stage. I’m just sorry this view isn’t shared by our country’s Supreme Court.”
Responding to news of the judgment, Dids Macdonald, CEO of Anti Copying in Design (ACID), who had supported Trunki’s application said: “This is a travesty and 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. The Law Lords’ decision is a sad day for justice and for UK designers.”
The judgment can be read here – https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/uksc-2014-0147.html
We’d like to thank all our loyal Trunki followers for their support – #ProtectYourDesign #BuyTrunki!