Coats & Bennett recently filed an amicus brief on behalf of the American Institute of Building Design (AIBD in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in an architectural works copyright case. In Design Basics, LLC, et al v. Signature Construction, Inc., et al., Case No. 1:16-cv-01275, the plaintiff, Design Basics, appealed the grant of a motion for summary judgment by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois holding that no reasonable jury could find that the defendants’ home plans were substantially similar to the copyrighted home plans. The District Court found that Signature was “aware of, had access to, and indeed took inspiration from Plaintiffs’ works,” but ruled that the Signature plans at issue were not substantially similar to the Design Basics plans as a matter of law based on the 7th Circuit’s decision in Design Basics v. Lexington Homes, 858 F.3d 1093 (7th Cir. 2017). The amicus brief argues that the District Court’ decision treats architectural works differently than other types of copyrighted works in evaluating the issue of substantial similarity.
Since in mid-1990s, the Seventh Circuit has been skeptical of amicus briefs that are not filed by consent or by a governmental agency. In 2010, for example, the Seventh Circuit granted leave to file an amicus brief in only 6 cases. See, Bruce Braverman, Getting Your Amicus Brief Before the Seventh Circuit and Illinois Supreme Court. To place this figure in perspective, the Seventh Circuit terminated 1510 cases in the 2009-2010 fiscal year. Id. By granting our motion for leave to file the amicus brief, the Seventh Circuit signals the importance of the issue to copyright holders.