New judgment: PMS International Ltd v Magmatic Ltd  UKSC 12
09 Wednesday Mar 2016
On appeal from:  EWCA Civ 181.
Unanimously dismissing Magmatic’s appeal against a finding that the respondents had not infringed a Community Registered Design. CRD is governed by Council Regulation (EC) No 6/2002, which provides that a design shall be protected to the extent that it is new and has individual character. What mattered was the overall impression created by it, and that potential customers would appreciate it on the basis of its distinctiveness.
In considering an issue of this nature, an appellate court should not reverse a judge’s decision unless he had erred in principle. A trial judge could not be expected in every case to refer to all the points which influenced his decision, but when a judge has given a full and careful judgment, conscientiously identifying a significant number of points which weigh with him, an appellate court could properly conclude that his failure to mention an important point means that he has overlooked it. This was the case here. Inter alia, the judge failed to give proper weight to the overall impression of the CRD as an animal with horns, which was significantly different from the impression made by the respondent’s product, which were either an insect with antennae or an animal with ears.
Accordingly, the Court of Appeal were right to hold that the judge materially misdirected himself and could properly consider the question of infringement for themselves. As they approached the question of infringement on the correct basis in law, this Court should be very slow indeed to interfere with their conclusion that the respondents did not infringe the CRD.