Building Graphics, Inc. v. Lennar Corp.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Intellectual Property Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Copyright
  • Date Filed: 02-26-2013
  • Case #: 11-2200
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Davis
  • Full Text Opinion

In the absence of direct evidence of a violation, the circumstantial evidence must demonstrate a reasonable possibility of access to the copyrighted work.

Opinion (Davis): Building Graphics, Inc. brought a copyright infringement suit alleging that Lennar Corp., misappropriated its copyrighted home designs. Lennar was a home designer looking to enter Charlotte, NC market, and had contracted an architecture firm to design homes for the area based on a design Lennar had acquired previously. Building Graphics then filed suit on the finished plans, claiming that plans were copied from copyright-protected designs owned by Building Graphics. Because Building Graphics had no direct evidence of Lennar copying Building Graphic’s designs, they had to rely on circumstantial evidence, which requires not only the mere possibility of access to the copyrighted material, but that it is reasonably possible that the Lennar had access to the designs. The trial court entered summary judgment in favor of Lennar, and Building Graphics appealed. The Court of Appeals found that the facts and circumstances did not give rise to any more than the mere possibility of access, even when viewed in the light most favorable to Building Graphics. Therefore, the Court AFFIRMED summary judgment.

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