Court of Appeal upholds unregistered design rights in suitcase design
Landor & Hawa International Ltd v Azure Designs Ltd  EWCA Civ 1285
The Court of Appeal has agreed with the Patent County CourtÂs decision that the design ownerÂ enjoyed both UK and Community unregistered design rights (ÂUDRÂ) in its ÂexpanderÂ suitcaseÂ design.
It decided that the suitcase design was not Âa method or principle of constructionÂ, and thereforeÂ not excluded under section 213(3)(a) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (ÂCDPAÂ).
The appeal raised three main issues, namely: (i) whether there was UK UDR in the Expander Design,Â or whether the design Â constituted a Âmethod or principle of constructionÂ, falling within theÂ exclusion under section 213(3)(a) CDPA (ii) whether the there existed Community UDR protection inÂ the Expander Design, or whether the design constituted Âfeatures of appearance of a product whichÂ are solely dictated by its technical functionÂ, falling within the exclusion in Article 8(1) ofÂ the Community Designs Regulation (6/2002/EC) (ÂCDRÂ) and (iii) whether the judge was right toÂ grant a quia timet injunction preventing the marketing and selling of the products even though theÂ threat to do so had been withdrawn by the time proceedings were issued.
Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. Section 213(3)(a) should be narrowly construed, stating thatÂ it did not apply simply because a design served a functional purpose, unless that purpose couldÂ not be achieved by another means. The judge had found that the strips of piping in the designÂ introduced a non-functional and even ÂcapriciousÂ element to the final appearance of the ensemble.Â A design with both aesthetic and functional features would still be protected under the CDPA.
As far as Community UDR was concerned, the Court held that the judge was right to draw supportÂ from Recital 10 of the CDR, which states that Âthis does not entail that a design must have anÂ aesthetic qualityÂ in order to be protected. Therefore, despite its functional features, theÂ design would be protected under EU law.