Nova Design Build, Inc. v. Modi, No. 10-1738 (7th Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
In negotiations for architectural services for construction of a hotel, the parties agreed that defendant would pay an additional $15,000, apart from design fees, if defendant elected not to use plaintiff's construction affiliate. The agreement stipulated that architectural designs would remain plaintiff's intellectual property. Defendant did not use plaintiff's construction affiliate and the relationship deteriorated. Plaintiff claimed that it had no further design obligations; defendant refused to pay what $28,000 demanded by plaintiff. Plaintiff accepted an $18,000 payment in satisfaction, but registered a copyright for designs that it had produced and filed copyright infringement claims against defendant. The district court ruled in favor of defendant, holding that plaintiff had not complied with registration requirements (17 U.S.C. 408(b)) when it submitted re-created designs because its office had been robbed. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Plaintiff did not identify anything in the designs that was original and protectable; the designs were, for the most part, based on the Holiday Inn Express prototype.