UK businesses must rally to protect intellectual property

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Here at Smoking Gun PR we all pride ourselves on originality, and love fresh ideas. Hence the ingeniousness mantra. And, as our client, Sir Terence Conran, proved this week by hitting out at UK courts, we’re not the only ones with the upmost respect for individual thinking.
After all, it’s this approach that makes the business world exciting. Without unique solutions to problems in everything from industrial and product design to marketing, things are going to get very dull, very quickly. As such it’s disappointing to see that a legal battle to protect the intellectual property of an iconic luggage range seems to be failing, hence the need for one of our brands to voice a public opinion, along with several other significant designers.
Following a High Court judgement safeguarding the market position of Magmatic’s Trunki line of animal-inspired ride-on kids suitcases, the Court of Appeals has overturned the ruling, meaning rival manufacturer PMS International can continue to produce and sell the distinctly similar looking rival, Kidee Cases. None of which is quite cricket, if you ask me, Sir Terence, Kevin McCloud, and Will Butler-Adams, big cheese at British folding bike-maker, Brompton, who have all condemned the decision.
The repercussions go well beyond those involved in this case, of course. For any business concerned with creativity, singularity of services and products, this is a significant issue. The value of a good idea cannot be underestimated- from public relations stunts to the start-ups currently vying for an opportunity through Virgin’s Pitch To Rich investment opportunity. In some instances it can determine the success of a major project, elsewhere it seals the fate of an entire business.
The ruling throws up a number of questions about the rights of designers, too, which could impact on the legal safety net product-based firms look for when deciding where to set up shop. That this comes in the wake of the Intellectual Property Act being passed to protect designers and try to ensure the UK can compete with cheaper labour in European countries only compounds the situation. Needless to say then, the new #ProtectYourDesign Twitter hashtag, set up to raise awareness, and calls for firms across the country to contact local MPs on the issue are necessary war cries. I just hope they’re loud enough to rectify the situation, and clarify what has just become a rather grey area of the law.