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Trunki: Registered design law clarified

Following the suitcase designer’s loss in the Supreme Court, John Coldham considers the current law on community registered designs

29 March 2016

On 9 March 2016, the Supreme Court decided PMS International Group Plc v Magmatic Limited [2016] UKSC 12, the community registered designs case about Trunki suitcases for children. While the design was ‘both original and clever’, the court decided ‘with some regret’ that the defendant, PMS, had not infringed – the appeal was not concerned with an idea or an invention, but with a design.

The court gave key guidance on interpreting designs, which should affect how designers file designs in future:

  • Black and white drawings and photos cover all colours;

  • Absence of decoration can be a feature of a registered design, and it would be ‘very curious if a design right registration system did not cater for it’; 

  • A line drawing is much more likely to be interpreted as not excluding ornamentation than a computer assisted design (CAD) image. The broadest claims can be achieved by drawings showing only the contours of the design, which would just protect physical shape; and 

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