Firm behind Trunki loses long-standing court battle

Claudia Glover, Osborne Clarke

Claudia Glover, Osborne Clarke

Bristol-based firm Magmatic has lost its long-running legal battle with rival PMS International to protect its design.

Magmatic is the company behind Trunki, the popular children’s ride-on suitcase.

Five Supreme Court judges analysed a dispute between Magmatic and PMS International, which sells Kiddee Case luggage, at a hearing last November.

Magmatic had contended that the PMS products breached its intellectual property (IP) rights.

In a judgment released this morning, the judges ruled against Magmatic.

In delivering the judgment Lord Neuberger – the UK’s most senior judge – said: “I have sympathy with Mr Law of Magmatic, it was a clever idea but design right is intended to protect designs, not ideas.”

Trunki designer 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.

“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.”

Claudia Glover, an associate director in Osborne Clarke’s Bristol-based commercial and IP litigation team, commented on the ruling: “Clearly, the decision by the Supreme Court to uphold the Court of Appeal’s judgment will not be welcomed by many businesses in the UK.

While it provides some much needed clarity around the scope of protection that registered designs offer, the decision is likely to hit the design world hard. A lot of businesses are likely now to be revisiting their registered designs and their IP strategies overall.”