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British brand seeks copyright law clarification in Supreme Court

Rob Law, owner of luggage company Magmatic, which produces kids’ travel accessories brand Trunki, believes he has secured a victory for British businesses by winning the right to fight a ruling made by the UK Court of Appeal concerning copyright infringement. 

The entrepreneur, who appeared on Dragons Den, successfully sued Hong Kong-based PMS International for copying the registered design of his ride-on suitcases in a High Court case in July 2013. 

However, the judgment was later overturned in the Court of Appeal in February 2014 after it was decided that computer-aided design drawings would not be offered the same protection as line-drawings.

Law claimed the ruling would leave more than 350,000 creative British businesses open to design infringement as third parties could reference differences in surface decoration in design disputes. 

“We are very pleased that the Supreme Court Justices have granted us permission to appeal. It’s the perfect early Christmas present. The decision recognises that there’s an unarguable case to answer. But it also confirms, as we and our supporters have always maintained that the issue of design protection is of significant public importance,” said Law. 

Dids Macdonald, chief executive of design protection association Acid, said: “This is very promising news and we hope the Supreme Court, in its first design decision involving an Acid member, will make a sensible judgment to clarify design law. Acid is a united voice on behalf of designers for design law reform. It is paramount that the thousands of members of Britain’s incredible design army are protected from the increasing lookalike culture by robust and coherent laws which match those that safeguard designers in the European Community.”

In May this year Law launched a #ProtectYourDesign campaign in a bid to force the Supreme Court to reexamine the case. This was supported by a string of businesses including The Daily Telegraph, The Design Trust and the Crafts Council.

At the same time, non-profit intellectual property rights organisation Acid wrote to the Supreme Court in May to seek permission to challenge the ruling. Magmatic has now become the first Acid member to receive such sanction.

Around 30% of businesses are thought to be registered at the European Design Office using CAD. Law will now attend a hearing at the Supreme Court next year. 

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