Design infringement IS serious business: in this case a primary question decided by the UK courts was whether or not the Kiddee, an animal-shaped suitcase on wheels, makes a "different overall impression" than the Trunki and I think, from a designer's perspective at least, that it is pretty clear. The creator of Trunki, Rob Law, as quoted by the BBC in their story on the verdict, says he was "bewildered by this judgment, not just for ourselves but for the huge wave of uncertainty it brings to designers in Britain”.
The fight has made its way up through successive levels of the courts since 2013 and has also played out publicly with both sides issuing statements and publicity photos of their lines. It ultimately lead to humorously similar images of the parties brandishing judgements made in their favor:
In 2003 the Trunki was registered as six CAD images and although the Supreme Court Justice that ruled on the case said, "it appears clear" the Kiddee Case had been conceived "as a result of seeing a Trunki and discovering that a discount model was not available."
What sayeth you, Lord CAD Monkey?
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If you want to protect a specific design you file a design patent, and if you can put dotted lines of all possible visual alterations that should be covered in said patent. If you want to protect a design concept you file a utility patent. It's a frustrating, expensive process for sure (the inequalities of which could fill many more articiles) but litigation is straightforward. The trunki founders should have covered their bases better.
similar, but not the same.... same complaint could be made between automakers... ford truck looks like chevy, visa versa....
i think the scary part to designers is the fact that if you conceive anything even remotely related to some other product, you run the risk of being sued, and even if you win, may still be left with a monetary loss.
Regardless of which side you take on this one, the patent system is outdated and flawed. Even if patents (design and / or utility) is obtained, it's just the beginning. Protecting IP is incredibly difficult, especially if you're a small company.
If Kiddie Case had ripped off the registered design, surface for surface, then I would say boo. However, it appears Kiddie Case actually invested in their own design work and produced their own unique design for the same product category. I do believe it protects designers, but it also demands that designers ought to be more business savvy.
Trunki invented the child's riding suitcase and, regardless of ornamentation, Kiddee stole it. If Trunki's lawyers failed to patent the utility concept, contesting Kiddee on cuteness isn't going to cut it.
Wait... the second photo, that dude's head is photoshopped on, that's a composite. Suspicious?
They made the right call. They showed that they understood the situation by noting the Trunki was a clever, cool concept; but that doesn't matter to whether one directly copies the other because they don't. From a distance there's an obvious similarity but from any close inspection, someone with any familiarity between the two would easily draw distinction.
The design protections don't cover the 'design concept' as far as I'm aware so the idea of why the shapes they landed on are the way they are and what they intend to convey wouldn't really help. One has exposed wheels, the other has covers. Why did they choose those routes? From that alone it is obvious that novel design thought went into both.
Scott, ... you don't seem to understand, that a Concept-Designer is a highly payed position, and to come up with a new concept is the hardest part to begin with, ... to steal something and change it a little, isn't hard at all!!!
It is sad and strange that a designer must pay to protect their property and that the law is not defending people by default. How odd it would be if a robber were allowed to steel from a man on the street, if the man has not paid some fee to carry his property in public.
A really interesting thing about this judgement is found near the end, in para 57. There, the judge states that "this appeal is not concerned with an idea or an invention, but with a design". But if RCDs are ineffectual in protecting highly original designs, then how can designers protect original ideas (other than by taking out lots of RCDs to cover possible variants of the design)? Design patents do not exist in the UK / EU. Technology patents are not applicable. Are trademarks or copyrights any good? (sorry about the bold, don't know how to remove it)
I am relieved the judge protected enterprising design. The simple fact that KIDDEE put eyes on their trunk should be enough. Maybe Trunki should think about doing the same, I bet it would help their sales.
... my vote is for the Original, I am sick and tired of those "so called" Designers,
that see "going shopping for great ideas" as their highpoint of their career, or better the proof of their creativity ... the same counts for all those bosses, which hire cheap untalented Designers just to send them shopping the market! .... All that don't agree, just don't understand the time , effort and brain-power it takes, to come up with something substantial !!!!
All the sympathy in the world to Rob Law. Not understanding British patent law in the least, it seems from the first page of the judgement that he should have gotten what we in the States call a utility patent, or at least updated his design patent (a lá DeWalt or Pony) to cover his colorways.
I'm struggling to understand why Trunki didn't win outright simply for holding the patent on riding suitcases.
I think this is actually a win for designers everywhere. At least in the UK, we don't have to fear actually creating something of tenuous similarity by mistake, or creating a different iteration of a general idea (these are not the first animal-shaped suitcases) and getting sued for it.
Anna, it's one thing to do it by accident, but It's a nother thing, to steal due to your lack of creativity or ability ... a general idea doesn't exist, there is always one, that had the brains to create it from scratch!!!
I can say, without fear of legal pursuit, that it does not surprise me that PMS International is involved in such a case. They have previous. I should know - it was a copy of a product that I designed and protected with a CRD that they imported in to the UK.
As an international design forum, it is naturally not possible for many readers to understand the significance of the 'Trunki story' to those of us in the UK. Rob Law really made a success of a 'simple' idea, from virtually nothing. Originally with manufacturing in the far east, he shifted production back to the UK as soon as was feasible, and now uses a dedicated factory in a quite economically challenged part of this country... Bringing jobs and tax revenue.
Perhaps people should be thinking more along these lines when judging the company's future?
This verdict could be devastating for them... The Kiddee product is. to my mind, an obvious attempt to take market share with cheap production (low wages).
And honestly... Is the original Trunki expensive?... I think not!
All kudos to Rob Law and Magmatic... None to the parasitic Kiddee company - come up with your own ideas!!
They fought the Law and the ... Law lost.