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Logan Developers v. Heritage Bldgs.

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 06-05-2014
Case #: 7:12-CV-323-F
United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina
Full Text Opinion: http://www.leagle.com/decision/In%20FDCO%2020131227J18
LexisNxis Link: 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76727
Westlaw Link: 2013 WL 5460757

Copyright: Evidence of common elements and standard features shared by two designs are not enough to prove copyright infringement when the two designs are neither extrinsically nor intrinsically similar.

Opinion (Fox): Plaintiff Logan Developers (“Logan”) and Defendant Heritage Buildings ("Heritage") manufacture residential homes. Logan initiated suit against Heritage for copyright infringement. Logan claimed that Heritage used a slightly modified version of a copyrighted “Ocracoke design” for the development of a new home. During trial Heritage moved for summary judgment with regard to this claim. Generally, a defendant is liable of copyright infringement when he or she utilizes “‘the original elements’ of the plaintiff's copyrighted work.” In order to determine whether or not copyright infringement occurred in this case the Court applied a two-prong test. As to the first factor, extrinsic similarity, the court determined that the two designs were modestly dissimilar with regard to the dimensions, proportions, and architectural features of the designs. After discounting  “the standard features and the elements common to the style of architecture” shared by the designs the Court found that the designs were not extrinsically similar and leaned in the defendant’s favor. As to the second factor, intrinsic similarity, the Court found that an ordinary observer would have also factored out the similar elements within these designs. As a result, a lay observer would have determined that these two designs were dissimilar. After reaching this conclusion, the Court ruled that the designs were not intrinsically similar. Motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants was GRANTED.