May 2019. The Lamzac, the popular inflatable beanbag made by Fatboy, has successfully withstood a serious attempt by Finnish company IP-Agency Finland to cancel its European design registration. Result: Fatboy’s registration to the Lamzac remains valid.
Images from EU design registration no. 002621904 for the Lamzac
Registered in 2015
The Lamzac was registered as a European design in 2015. Since then, Fatboy has used the registration to keep various imitators off the market.
The Lamzac as sold on the market
But even if you have a fully valid European registration to a design, it could still potentially be cancelled. If someone can demonstrate, for example, that it wasn’t new and didn’t have an individual character when it was registered, they can have it cancelled through an invalidity procedure. Then … goodbye design protection!
The Lamzac was recently subjected to exactly this kind of procedure, which was brought before the European Trademark Office EUIPO. Finnish company IP-Agency claimed that when it was registered in 2015, the Lamzac wasn’t in fact new and didn’t have an individual character. The Finns bolstered their case with several examples of inflatable bean bags which were already being sold by Amazon and Walmart in 2014.
Examples of designs already on sale prior to 2015
Lamzac: not pointed
However, EUIPO threw these arguments out on the grounds that the Lamzac’s overall impression was sufficiently different from the older designs. For example, the Lamzac wasn’t pointed at both ends but was in fact rounded at one end with a distinctive closing mechanism, it concluded. What’s more, users of the Lamzac effectively lay on top of the bag, whereas users of older models sat in the bag. The registration was therefore upheld.
The victory must have been a huge relief to Fatboy. It would have been unthinkable if this design, which the company understandably registered as soon as it launched its bean bag, had been declared void. A negative ruling would have seriously weakened the Lamzac’s legal position. Now the design will hang on to its European rights until at least 2040 (registered designs are given up to 25 years’ protection).