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Trunki suitcase firm loses Supreme Court fight with rival

Published 09/03/2016

A Trunki children's suitcase
A Trunki children's suitcase

A firm that sells Trunki suitcases has lost a Supreme Court fight with a rival over children's ride-on luggage.

Five Supreme Court justices analysed the design dispute between Magmatic, which sells Trunki suitcases, and PMS International, which sells Kiddee Case luggage, at a hearing in London in November.

They ruled in favour of PMS on Wednesday.

Bosses at Magmatic said Kiddee Case suitcases decorated to look like animals or insects infringed their registered design rights.

The case made legal history as Supreme Court justices included illustrations in a written ruling for the first time, officials said.

Two illustrations of suitcases appeared in paragraph one of the judgment, written by Supreme Court president Lord Neuberger.

Specialist lawyer Georgie Collins, a partner at law firm Irwin Mitchell, said the decision would have consequences.

"This case shines the spotlight on the ongoing battle between market-leading products borne out of creative design and those who produce invariably cheaper competing products which are similar but not identical," she said.

"Today's ruling will have far-reaching consequences for the design industry and will be seen as disastrous for those who have sought to protect their designs with Community Design Registrations as the scope of protection is now called into question."

She added: "It is a massive blow to Trunki."

Lawyer Mike Gardner, a partner at law firm Wedlake Bell, said: "The Supreme Court has dismissed Magmatic's (Trunki's) appeal. The Court expressed sympathy with Magmatic that in this case it could not do anything to stop the sales of a product copied by a rival. But design law did not protect ideas - it protected the appearance of products.

"Magmatic's registered design showed computer-aided drawings of the Trunki which included some shading and dark colours for the wheels. These had to be taken as part of the design and not ignored as Magmatic contended.

"Registered designs are supposed to be a cheap and effective way for business to protect their designs. This case shows how, in practice, it can still be difficult and expensive to enforce them.

"Businesses and designers going forward will have be careful when submitting designs for registration to make sure that they accurately reflects what they want to be protected."

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