Protect Your Design campaign: CAD at the centre of the problem

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Trunki designer Rob Law is at the heart of the battle to safeguard thousands of British product designs now left vulnerable

Some of the great and good of British design have rushed to oppose a court decision and its possible implications to the IP of thousands of British product designs.

As reported by the Telegraph, Trunki – a child’s ride-on suitcase – designer Rob Law, “suffered a major blow in March when the Court of Appeal reversed a High Court decision, finding that the discount rival “Kiddee Case”, manufactured by Hong Kong-based PMS International, did not infringe the Trunki’s design.”

Having adjusted some minor details to the Trunki, the judge ruled that the Hong Kong product was sufficiently different, but at the heart of the problem was that Law had submitted his designs as a CAD ‘representation’, which following the ruling no longer have the same protection as line drawings – a number that the Telegraph states is around 65 per cent of filed designs at the European Registry.
If the Trunki ruling is upheld, the coalition of designers warn that it will leave hundreds of thousand of other British designs open to copyright infringement.

The Protect Your Design campaign, backed by Sir Terence Conran, Brompton Bikes CEO Will Butler-Adams, and the annoying bloke off Grand Designs, is calling for more legal protection for the nation’s designers – a number that the Telegraph lists as 350,000 designers contributing £33.5bn to the British economy each year.

Law’s design for the Trunki was protected by a Community Registered Design (CRD) – six CAD models of the exterior of the case from different angles.

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However, if the ruling stands, third parties will be able to claim that differences in surface decoration render the protection invalid.

It’s all a little confusing, and if the ruling is overturned then it could still lead to a prolonged battle.

Either way, the murky situation behind IP rights is desperately in need of clarification – with the recognition and safeguarding of CAD models being key to this.

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