GREENVILLE, S.C. – Wyche attorneys Wallace K. Lightsey and Troy A. Tessier secured a $1.4 million verdict for Frank Betz Associates, Inc. (“Betz”) in an architectural works copyright infringement case against Signature Homes, Inc., Brian Burns, and Signature Partnership, LLC. This verdict, one of the largest ever for an architectural works copyright case, was announced on February 2, 2012, after a three-week jury trial in federal court in Nashville, Tennessee.
Betz is one of the country’s leading home plan designers, and has achieved national recognition for the quality and originality of its work. Betz has won numerous awards for its residential home plan designs, and its copyrighted plans have become popular throughout the U.S. In this case, the jury determined that the Signature defendants had used unauthorized copies of 8 copyrighted Betz designs to advertise and build 78 infringing homes in the Murfreesboro, TN area. The jury awarded damages to Betz in the amount of $1.4 million, rejecting the Signature defendants’ claims that no infringement occurred and that a proper damages award should be in the range of $42,000 – $56,000.
Wyche represents some of the largest and most successful residential home plan designers in the nation, and actively assists these clients in protecting their portfolios of copyrighted designs. When litigation becomes a necessary part of the process in a particular case, it is important to have a strong trial team ready to take action. Mr. Lightsey and Mr. Tessier are experienced trial lawyers, each with more than 50 trials to verdict to their credit. Verdicts of this size are unusual in the context of single-family residential design copyrights.
Wyche is a full-service law firm which has practiced law and served the Greenville community for more than 90 years. In that time, Wyche has participated in landmark litigation, served as counsel on cutting-edge transactions, and provided community leadership that has helped shape and drive our region’s growth and success. With offices in Greenville and Columbia, Wyche is the South Carolina member of Lex Mundi, the world’s leading association of independent law firms.