In a case which will strike fear into the hearts of manufacturers and creators of novel products, leading designer Rob Law suffered a crushing blow when the Court of Appeal exposed his phenomenally successful Trunki ride-on children’s suitcase to a deluge of competition from a discounted rival.
The Dragon’s Den competitor fought to make the Trunki a success and succeeded beyond his wildest dreams to the point where, by 2011, 20 per cent of British three- to six-year-olds proudly owned one of the pull-along cases, which can bear any number of animal or insect motifs.
However, a dispute developed after Hong Kong-based discount toy manufacturers PMS International Limited began selling a rival product, called a Kiddee Case, in the European market. Mr Law’s company, Magmatic Limited, successfully argued at the High Court that the Kiddee Case breached the Trunki’s community-registered design rights.
However, in overturning that decision, the Court of Appeal found that the ‘softer and more rounded’ shape of the Kiddee Case – which comes in animal and insect versions – was ‘very different’ from the Trunki’s ‘sleek and stylised’ appearance and that there was no likelihood that shoppers would be confused between them.
Noting that the two versions of the Kiddee Case were ‘evocative of an insect with antennae or an animal with floppy ears’, the Court found that, although there were ‘some similarities at a general level’ between the products, the overall impression conveyed by the Kiddee Case to informed users was ‘very different’ from that of the Trunki.