April 25, 2017
CNN recently consulted with Nexsen Pruet attorney Jeff Reichard for his insight into architectural copyright law, and quoted him in an article related to a dispute surrounding the Dubai Frame construction project. Located in Dubai, UAE, the dispute centers on an architect who claims that his award-winning design which resembles a picture frame was stolen.
The following is an excerpt from the article:
Can you copyright a building?
So how do you copyright a skyscraper -- or an idea for one?
CNN spoke with Jeffrey Reichard, a construction and intellectual property attorney with Nexsen Pruet, about how to legally determine whether or not a skyscraper is counterfeit.
"There's a difference between an idea versus an expression," Reichard says. "If the overarching idea is that 'I want to copyright an idea of a large picture frame as a building to look over the Dubai skyline,' that idea is not protectable under copyright. What would be protectable, though, is if you create blueprints for that idea -- then those blueprints are protected."
Donis says Dubai Municipality went ahead with the construction of the Dubai Frame without his permission.
Reichard says even if someone hasn't registered the copyright to their intellectual property, it is still protected under copyright law and may be infringed.
"As long as you have fixed your design in a tangible medium and the other side has access to that design and then they create something that's substantially similar then that's infringement."
He says in order to protect yourself from copyright damages, one should register their idea as soon as possible.
"Registering it before the infringement commences gives you enhanced rights -- such as statutory damages and attorney fees.
"They encourage you to register early and register often by giving you these enhanced remedies."
Jeffrey M. Reichard practices primarily in the areas of commercial litigation, construction and intellectual property. Jeff regularly represents owners, contractors and design professionals in all aspects of contract negotiation, litigation, dispute resolution and intellectual property enforcement, including architectural copyright infringement and related matters.