The Trunki copying case shows the bewildering complexity of design law

Here’s a link to the recent Court of Appeal judgement on the case of luggage brand Trunki, which claimed its products were copied by a rival. See how much you can understand.

Trunki inventor Rob Law
Trunki inventor Rob Law

For extra marks, see if you can work out why Trunki’s initial High Court success against PMS International was overturned on appeal, meaning PMS is free to keep selling its Kiddee Cases.

The outcry around the recent Trunki case, which saw Sir Terence Conran, Kevin McCloud and others appeal to Government over design copying legislation, just shows how complex and baffling this legislation currently is.

According to intellectual property lawyers, Trunki lost its case at the Court of Appeal because of the way it presented its registered designs – as line drawings without any colour or surface details.

This means the case may now set a precedent for competitors to copy products but change the colour or surface features to avoid infringement.

The law around design copying in the UK is a minefield.

It’s most recent update – the Intellectual Property Act, which outlaws design copying in the UK – is a far more complex bill than many people realise, as we examine here.

There are plenty of good resources available to designers worried about copying – notably through organisation Anti-Copying in Design, which campaigned to bring the IP Act into force.

But as the Trunki court case proves, Conran, McCloud et al are right when they refer to ‘widespread confusion’ among designers about their rights, and suggest that the ruling ‘puts British business at a real disadvantage’.

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