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“I’m out” – Court of Appeal Rules No Infringement of Trunki Design

7 April 2014

On 28th February 2014, Magmatic, the company behind the Trunki ride-on suitcase which was made famous by the BBC’s Dragons’ Den, suffered a major setback when the Court of Appeal handed down its decision in Magmatic Ltd v PMS International Ltd . The Court of Appeal reversed the first instance decision of Arnold J, finding that Magmatic’s Registered Community Design (RCD) was not infringed by PMS’ Kiddee Case.

PMS appealed against the first instance decision on the basis that Arnold J had wrongly interpreted the Trunki design registration by only taking into account the shape and ignoring all other aspects including graphical surface design.

The Court of Appeal agreed, finding that Arnold J had made two mistakes in his first instance decision:

  • The first was that he did not carry out a global comparison taking into account all aspects of the RCD and, in particular, the fact that the overall impression of the Kiddee case was that of an animal with horns, a nose and a tail, unlike the RCD.
  • The second concerned the colour. While the court agreed that the Trunki design was not limited by colour since it was registered in monochrome, he stated that relative shading in the design had to be taken into account. In particular, the distinct contrast in the registered design between the wheels and the remainder of the body was a striking aspect of the design as a whole which gave a different overall impression to that of the Kiddee Case.

This decision provides interesting insight for designers into the scope of RCDs and what aspects should and should not be taken into account in their assessment. In particular, this case suggests that a distinction must be drawn between designs comprising simple line drawings and computer generated three dimensional designs which show the effect of light upon a depicted product. In this case, a line drawing representation of the Trunki suitcase may actually have afforded Magmatic wider protection.

William Morgan
Electronics, Physics & Computing Group