Stephen Zralek, a Member of Bone McAllester Norton, recently led a team that obtained a unanimous jury verdict for a homebuilder when a competing homebuilder, its owner and a realtor infringed the copyright in our client's original architectural work known as the Brentwood II. At the conclusion of the four-day trial in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, the jury returned a verdict in favor of our client, Singletary Construction, LLC, finding all three defendants liable for copyright infringement, and awarding all of their profits from the infringement to Singletary Construction.
When the contract between Singletary Construction and a homebuyer fell through on the purchase and sale of the Brentwood II, the buyer's realtor instructed a competing homebuilder to "build the same home" in the very same subdivision, and to even "match" photographs of the Brentwood II. She went so far as to put these instructions in the contract with the competing homebuilder. For its part, the competing homebuilder examined photographs of the Brentwood II, utilized the same cabinet designer to "match" the Brentwood II's layout, and copied both the overall layout and arrangement of rooms, even down to details as minute as the wainscoting, crown molding, and trim around return air vents. The realtor was held contributorily liable because she knowingly induced the infringement, and the owner of the competing homebuilder was held vicariously liable because he supervised the infringement and received a direct financial benefit from it.
To read the Judgment, click here.