PMS International has succeeded in its recent appeal against a High Court judgement that banned sales of its range of Kiddee Cases, which the company admits was specifically designed to compete against Trunki products.
PMS won the unanimous support of three Court of Appeal Judges. Lord Justice Moses, Lady Justice Black and Lord Justice Kitchin said “various errors” had been made by High Court judge, Mr Justice Arnold, who wrongly found in July of last year that PMS’s Kiddee Case infringed the European Community Registered Design (CRD) of the Trunki.
Welcoming the outcome of its appeal, Mr Paul Beverley, managing director of PMS International, said the decision was “a victory for common sense that underscores the consumer’s right to have a choice. During these tough economic times, consumers need to have access to competitively priced product. The right of choice shouldn’t be denied to lower income families, providing there is no relevant patent or design infringement. It’s a great day for legitimate competition and demonstrates the effectiveness of the British justice system.”
The Court of Appeal judgment confirms that the Kiddee Cases do not infringe Magmatic managing director, Robert Law’s Europe-wide Design Registration for Trunki because in legal terms they create a very different overall impression on consumers. The Court of Appeal judges commented that the PMS versions were much more animal-like in appearance and, in court, one of the Court of Appeal judges referred to them as “more cuddly” than the horn-wielding Trunki.
The Appeal judges were also of the same view that the Kiddee Cases are much more animal-like in appearance than the Trunki and were at odds with Mr Justice Arnold in that they felt the animal markings on the Kiddee Cases and presence of ears and antennae “produced a very different overall impression”. In his judgment, Lord Justice Kitchin came to the conclusion that the Kiddee Case design “does produce on the informed user a different overall impression from that produced by the Registered Design”. The other two Appeal Judges agreed.
Paul Beverley commented: “Magmatic complained of some minor unregistered design infringements. Mr. Justice Arnold found PMS had only infringed in respect of the external locking device, the method of attachment of a plastic key to a strap, the elasticated internal cross-strap and internal side pocket. The latter two PMS had claimed were found on most suitcases. These issues could easily have been settled by negotiation with PMS who were legally entitled to use the features concerned. The successful outcome of our appeal is also welcome confirmation that design registrations cannot be used to stop unpatented design concepts from facing fair competition from products that simply look quite different. If this were not the case, Hoover would be the only vacuum cleaner on the market and Apple would be the only tablet.”
PMS has instructed its lawyers to pursue a damages claim against Magmatic over the wrongful injunction, and claims made by Magmatic against PMS and its customers.
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