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SMARTePLANs Blog

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Houston: SMARTePLANS Settles Copyright Infringement Lawsuit with Sugar Land Luxury Property Realtor


April 22nd, 2012


Recently, I had to file a lawsuit against a local Realtor who used my property drawings without my permission to market an expansive $3M Sugar Land property. 

Here is what apparently happened: A realtor client hired me to create the plans for this extensive luxury property. Unfortunately, that agent's brief listing agreement was not renewed.   A new agent was hired and in response to an inquiry about the property, emailed to the inquiring party --- my floor plan drawings and 9 pages of my detailed amenities text describing the property.

I say “had to file” because I cannot turn a blind eye to theft and as the copyright owner I am the only one who can file. If I do not file … it pretty much puts the first agent – who paid for the materials --- in the position of subsidizing the 2nd agent’s marketing materials – who used them for free --- which we can all agree is ridiculously unfair. No agent on the planet thinks subsidizing his competitors marketing expenses is a good thing.

If YOU Didn’t Create It, or Personally Hire and Pay Someone to Create it For YOU --- Don’t Use It!

There seems to be a disturbing trend in our society that people do not appear to make decisions based on what is “right” or what is “wrong” anymore --- but rather on their assessment of whether they will get caught. I urge you to re-think that position if you believe it is a viable one.

Consider the Following:

 -  It’s highly likely that those who own visual arts also have the means to both track and find misappropriation of their property

 -  It’s also highly likely those who create visual arts have a base of customers/ family/ friends/ clients who readily recognize their work and will not hesitate to report possible misappropriations – you will get caught… its not “if” … its WHEN

 -  It’s also highly likely that those who create visual arts are more than conversant with copyright law as this body of law protects their LIVLIHOOD; many have attorneys on retainer.

 -  As real estate agents your profession is one based on trust. Having to appear in court and explain your involvement in copyright infringement (i.e theft) hardly bolsters your reputation for trustworthiness, nor your brokers.

Copyright / trademark and patent infringement are usually not in civil court, but rather federal court and there is currently no “small claims court” for purloined IP (intellectual property). Litigating IP is a specialty, and attorney fees are in the $400-$600 per hour range, and rarely do they take cases on contingency. It will cost you generally about $25K just to walk through the door of the federal courthouse to begin your case; once discovery is underway you can maybe squeak by with another $50K.

If the copyright was registered (this one was; most of mine are) you can also expect to pay all of my attorney fees and court costs as well as yours. Do the math… $400 per hour attorney fees add up rapidly. In this case my logoed trademark (also federally registered) and copyright notices were still on the emailed drawing … although some identifying marks were whited-out on the 9 pages of amenities text. In court this would likely be evidence of “willful” infringement which can allow for additional penalty fees to be assessed by the court (on top of everything else).

But you’re not alone in this, your broker will also likely be named in the lawsuit … so their name and professional standing is also at risk … thanks to you

Don't do this ... Don't risk this... If you don't happen to believe it is "wrong".. than believe you will get caught.

Thanks for stopping by!


 

Judith, The Floor Plan Lady

SMARTePLANS® have photos embedded inside the floor plan that launch with a mouse click .... each photo arrow is positioned in the plan where the photographer was standing --- so you can see where he was and what he was aiming at when he took the shot ... in relationship to the drawing. Beneath the photo is a description of that room. Once the photo launches you have a choice to link back to the floor plan and choose another photo, or read the amenities text for the WHOLE property (not just that particular room). All the files are inter-linked so you can seamlessly click around this property, viewing the photos and reading the descriptions. This is not a video ... you choose what you want to view ... or not

[NOTE: SMARTePLANS® are PDF files so they magnify to over 6400%. When the file launches, you can zoom by using the tool bar. Every time you tap the plus key inside the circle the view screen enlarges (the minus key shrinks the magnification) Using the scroll bars on the bottom and the side, its easy to move around inside the file, and then magnifying the features you want to see.]

© SMARTePLANS® 2012

The compilation above is the original creative work and copyrighted property of SMARTePLANS. You may link to it; but it may not be copied, nor reproduced in any form or format in whole or in part without the express written permission of Judith Sinnard


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