Suitcase maker Trunki loses design copyright fight against Hong Kong rival PMS in Supreme Court

Magmatic, the Bristol-based maker of Trunki, has claimed PMS International "ripped off" its design when it launched the Kiddee Case.

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The Independent Online

The maker of Trunki-ride on suitcases has lost a Supreme Court fight against a rival it claimed was breaching its intellectual property rights.

Magmatic, the Bristol-based maker of Trunki, has claimed PMS International, a competitor based in Hong-Kong, "ripped off" its design when it launched the Kiddee Case.

Magmatic won a high court judgement in 2013. This was overturned by the court of appeal in 2014 and found in favour of PMS on Wednesday.

"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," Robert Law, Trunki founder said.

"We created an original product in Trunki and protected it by computer generated registered design – a process used to protect a third of designs across Europe. In my honest opinion, the Trunki was willfully 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. They’re effectively sending knights into battle without armour," he added.

Paul Beverley, Kiddee Case founder told Sky News the ruling was a "victory for fair competition".

"It upholds the right of consumers to be able to choose competitively-priced products,” he said.

“We try always to work within the law and successive courts have agreed that there is no way our popular Kiddee Case can be mistaken for any other product. On reality we are operating in very different markets from our rivals and we have never been competing for the same customer base," he added. 

Lawyers specialising in design and patent litigation have previously said it is an extremely important legal case that is likely to have implications for small creative firms that rely on design rights in the future.

''It involves Trunki, a successful company at the forefront of British design which has created a hugely well-known and innovative product. It is likely to have profound implications in the design world," Ewan Grist, a specialist intellectual property lawyer at law firm Bird&Bird said.

Robert Law appeared on BBC Two television show Dragons' Den in 2006, unsuccessfully seeking investment for his Trunki case.

After he was rejected by the show, he went on to sell more than two million of the suitcases in more than 60 countries.