High Court Decision - Trunki® v Kiddee Case (Magmatic v PMS)
The Claimant, Magmatic Ltd., produces the now ubiquitous child's ride-on suitcase known as "Trunki®". Their founder, Mr. Robert Law, famously walked out of BBC's Dragon's Den empty-handed, but this did not hamper the success of the Trunki® case, which is now sold in 97 countries.
The Defendant, PMS International Ltd., produces a ride-on suitcase known as the Kiddee Case.
Magmatic filed a Community registered design ("CRD") on 20 June 2003. The validity of the CRD was brought into question in relation to a disclosure of Mr. Law's earlier ride-on suitcase concept in an award ceremony in 1998.
Arnold J considered that, while this earlier concept was made available to the public, it would not have been possible for anyone who was not present at the ceremony to find out about it's existence. As such, the "relatively obscure" prior disclosure did not form part of the design corpus of which the informed user would have been aware. The CRD was therefore considered to be valid.
The scope of protection conferred by a Community Design extends to any design that does not produce on the informed user a different overall impression, taking into account the degree of freedom of the designer when developing his design.
Arnold J considered that, as the Trunki® case was the first child's ride-on suitcase, the designer had considerable design freedom and therefore the CRD should be entitled to a broad scope of protection.
The overall impression of the CRD was considered to be a slim, sculpted, sophisticated, modern appearance having animal-like parts. The Kiddee case was considered to produce the same overall impression and therefore to infringe the CRD.
Arnold J also decided that four of the Claimant's unregistered design rights, relating to certain parts of the Trunki® case, namely the inner and outer straps and the clasps, were infringed.
Interestingly, this case was expedited, so that a decision could be given before the sector's lucrative summer holiday season.