“We know how it feels” admits chairman Simon Birchenough.
Simon Birchenough contacted Toy World with his thoughts over this week’s Supreme Court ruling which saw Trunki defeated in its bid to block rival Kiddee Case from being sold in the UK.
He commented: “Over 15 years ago, I stepped off a flight to find 12 missed calls on my mobile. We were awaiting the judgement of a high profile patent infringement trial in the High Court, so it was with some trepidation that I listened to the multiple messages. Having sunk well over £1 million in legal costs over the previous three years, not to mention a huge amount of management time, the loss of the case was devastating, so I can imagine only too well what Rob Law and his team at Magmatic are going through. I only hope that like us, they can put the matter behind them and refocus on growing the business by developing more great products.
But it does bring into stark focus the challenges of launching new products in an industry that has been known to take “short cuts” in the R&D process. Trunki is a great idea, and that was the problem – great ideas in themselves are very difficult to completely protect, unless there is an inventive step with significant novelty, upon which the idea is dependent. In which case a patent is possible, but they are expensive and can take years to go to grant.
As we develop new products and categories at Worlds Apart, the strength of any potential IP is a major consideration as we strive to own and maintain these new categories for many years. But the IP is only as strong as your confidence and ability to defend it – Worlds Apart spends well into six figures every year on defensive IP initiatives, both home and abroad, with four successful actions just in the last 12 months.
This proactive approach, along with speed to market, global distribution, lowest cost manufacturing and third party licensing will hopefully continue to keep the copyists at bay. But we applaud Magmatic for having the will and confidence to defend a great idea, and despite the adverse outcome this time, I sincerely hope we’d both do the “right thing” again next time.”