The Trunki case – designers be forewarned

Trunki Trixie

Designers should take note of the decision and guidance offered following the UK Supreme Court decision in the Trunki case.

The UK’s highest court unanimously upheld the decision by the Court of Appeal that rival manufacturer of the Kiddee Case, PMS International Group Plc, did not infringe the UK registered design rights owned by Magmatic Limited (Trunki).

The case itself is reasonably complex in its assessment of the designs filed and interpretation of the relevant law. The decision includes assessment of the inclusion/absence of ornamentation and decoration in a registered design and the use of colours.

Some of the key points worth highlighting are:

  1. Where a design is shown in colours, the colours are claimed while a black and white drawing or photo covers all colours.
  2. The broadest claims can be achieved by drawings showing only the contours of the design.
  3. The Supreme Court suggests that as designers are in complete control of the designs registered, he can “make a large number of different applications”. Choosing too specific a level may not offer protection against similar designs.

Despite how it may seem from the decision in this case, registered designs are still a powerful tool to use against infringers.

We are expecting the UK Intellectual Property Office to issue new guidance for designers in light of this case. In the meantime, if this is relevant for your business, it would be prudent to seek out advice ahead of filing your applications.