It’s been an enlightening – and some might say worrying – week for designers across the UK after it was revealed Magmatic, the parent company of luggage design firm Trunki, lost its infringement case against PMS International at the Supreme Court last week. It’s a verdict that further highlights the need for clearer and more defined design infringement law.
In a judgment handed down on 9th March, the court ruled that the European design registration of Trunki, Magmatic’s award-winning ride-on suitcase, was not infringed by PMS’s lookalike product. During the last three years PMS had produced their own very similar design which they 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 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 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.
Dids Macdonald, OBE, CEO of Hotel Designs partner ACID 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’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.”
For more information about design and copyright infringement law visit acid.uk.com