UK: Court Of Appeal Rules That Trunki Suitcase Is Not Infringed By Rival Ride-On Suitcase

Last Updated: 14 March 2014
Article by Nick Rose

Magmatic Ltd v PMS International Ltd [2014] EWCA Civ 181

Former Dragon's Den entrepreneur, Robert Law, designer of the well-known Trunki ride-on suitcase, suffered a major blow last week when the Court of Appeal reversed the previous High Court decision and found that the discount rival ride-on "Kiddee Case" did not infringe the Trunki's Community Registered Design.


In May 2003, Magmatic Ltd ("Magmatic"), the company founded by Robert Law, applied for and was subsequently granted a Community Registered Design ("CRD") for the Trunki suitcase, which started selling in 2004. The CRD consisted of six monochrome representations of the exterior of the case from different angles and perspectives. The various handles and clasps of the Trunki gave the suitcase the appearance of a horned animal. In late 2012, PMS International Ltd ("PMS") began to import and sell similar ride-on suitcases at a discount price, under the trade mark "Kiddee Case". These cases were sold in two basic versions – an animal version with handles to look like ears and an insect version with handles to look like antennae. Each case had a graphic design on the surface to give the appearance of a tiger, leopard, cow, pig, ladybird or bee. It was common knowledge that the design of the Kiddee Case was inspired by the Trunki. In February 2013, Magmatic sued PMS for design infringement.

First instance decision

In the High Court decision in July 2013, Mr Justice Arnold held that the Trunki CRD had been infringed by the Kiddee Case. He said that on comparing the shapes of the Trunki and Kiddee Case, whilst there were some differences between the design features of both suitcases, the overall impression created by the designs on the informed user (the parent, carer or relative of a child) was the same. (Click here for a more detailed commentary on that decision). Mr Justice Arnold did, however, cast some doubt on whether his assessment had been correct so it is not surprising that an appeal ensued. 

Court of Appeal decision

PMS appealed on the basis that Mr Justice Arnold had made mistakes in his first instance decision because he had wrongly interpreted the CRD and when comparing the suitcases, he had based his assessment only on the shape of the Kiddee Case but had ignored all other aspects of the design, including graphical surface designs. Mr Justice Arnold's view was that because the CRD for the Trunki was for the shape and did not show any graphical designs on the surface, the designs on the surface of the Kiddee Case had to be ignored. The Court of Appeal, however, took a different view.  

The Court of Appeal said that Mr Justice Arnold had erred in two respects:

  • He had failed to carry out a global comparison taking into account the nature of the CRD and the fact that the suitcase, when considered as a whole, looked like a horned animal, with a nose and a tail – one of the essential features of the design. It was necessary to consider the visual impression that the CRD and the Kiddee Case designs created, including any features appearing on the front and sides. The impression the insect Kiddee Case created was influenced by the two-tone colouring of the body, the spots and the handles on the forehead which looked like antennae. As a result, it resembled a ladybird.  Likewise for the animal version, the stripes and whiskers and the handles which looked like ears gave the impression that it was a tiger. Neither of these was a horned animal and therefore they gave a very different impression from the Trunki CRD.
  • Even though he had correctly found that the Trunki design, registered in monochrome, was not limited to particular colours, he had failed to take into account the distinct colour contrast between the wheels and body of the CRD. This was a striking feature of the CRD and was not present in the Kiddee Case. 

In the circumstances, the Court of Appeal was free to re-evaluate whether infringement had occurred. It concluded that it hadn't. There were many significant differences between the cases - the profile of the Kiddee Case was asymmetric and more rounded than the CRD, the sides of the Kiddee Case did not have a ridge whereas the CRD did, the wheels of the Kiddee Case were covered by wheel arches whereas in the CRD they were not.  Further, the judge said that the overall impression created by the two designs was very different - the impression created by the CRD was that of a horned animal - a sleek, stylised design with a symmetrical appearance with a significant cut away semicircle below the ridge. By contrast the design of the Kiddee Case was softer and more rounded and evocative of an insect with antennae or an animal with floppy ears. At both a general and a detailed level, the Kiddee Case conveyed a very different impression.


This is an interesting decision on the scope of Community registered design protection and the relevant factors to take into account when determining how similar or different competing products are, particularly with respect to surface decoration and colour contrast. It may also make design registrants think twice about the way in which they represent their designs in the actual design registration, in order to maximize on protection. Press reports indicate that Magmatic will appeal to the Supreme Court and take it to an even higher level in Europe if necessary. This is unsurprising given that the Trunki and Kiddee Case are clearly very similar visually (and indeed the Managing Director of PMS admitted that he developed the Kiddee Case off the back of seeing a Trunki on his travels) but at the same time, they have been found to create a different overall impression. Such a decision could have implications for other businesses trying to protect unique designs against copycat products and while it is important not to stifle competition, it is also important not to discourage creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. It is highly likely that there will be another instalment in this battle of the suitcases...... 

Article written by Rebecca Pakenham-Walsh, senior associate (PSL) in the IP Enforcement and Litigation group of Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP in London.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.