Design right infringement: PulseOn watches Garmin run to victory

07 Mar 2019

The Court of Appeal has found in favour of Garmin in a dispute over the registered design rights of popular exercise watches that incorporate heart monitor tracking. 

PulseOn OY (PulseOn) claimed that Garmin (Europe) Limited (Garmin) infringed its registered design right – a right that protects the appearance, physical shape, configuration and decoration of a design – in relation to one of its heart rate monitor watches. The original claim was decided in favour of Garmin and PulseOn appealed. 

In appealing there were four main grounds of appeal that the court had to consider:

  1. That the arrangement of the LED lights used for heart rate monitoring was not properly considered;
  2. That the judge incorrectly compared PulseOn’s design to enlarged Garmin products;
  3. That undue weight was given to design features that were determined by technical considerations; and
  4. That the judge applied the wrong test for infringement.

All of the above grounds were dismissed by the Court of Appeal. 

The test for infringement is whether the designs create a different overall impression on an informed user and importantly in this case the Court did not feel the need to assess whether the judge applied the wrong test for infringement, reaffirming the current test. 

The decision of the original judge, that Garmin’s designs did not to infringe those of PulseOn, was upheld. 

This case is helpful for design right owners as it maintains the test for infringement that has been well established in case law over many years. 

If you would like to discuss a potential infringement of a design right or if you would like some general advice on design rights, then please contact us for an initial consultation.

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