IP Cases & Articles

UK Supreme Court - Magmatic v PMS

Registered design litigation rarely reaches the UK Supreme Court, but Magmatic, the manufacturer of the famous "Trunki" ride-on suitcase, has been granted permission to take its litigation all the way to the Supreme Court in order to resolve a legal issue relating to the scope of protection in the UK conferred by a registered Community design (RCD).

The suitcase illustrated in the RCD is shown using 3D rendered views, and the only 2D surface decoration (ornamentation) results from the tonal contrast in the rendered views between the dark wheels and carrying strap of the suitcase and the light body of the suitcase. Significantly, the suitcase body is shown as being plain and un-ornamented. "Kiddee Case", the competing product from PMS International, differs:

  1. By having no tonal contrast between the carrying strap and the suitcase body; and
  2. By having extensive surface decoration on the sides and nose of the suitcase body in the form of stripes and whiskers.

The UK Court of Appeal used these two differences in its February 2014 decision that the "Kiddee Case" produced a different overall visual impression compared with the suitcase shown in the RCD, and so did not infringe the RCD.

This decision received wide and unfavourable comment, and a campaign was launched to have it appealed to the Supreme Court and overturned and Magmatic granted an injunction to stop further sales of competing product from PMS International, who admit that their suitcase is inspired by the original Trunki suitcases.

Magmatic's wish for an appeal has been granted, and the case will now be heard by the Supreme Court, albeit apparently only in relation to the legal significance of the second difference mentioned above relating to surface decoration.