Chicago Bldg. Design, P.C. v. Mongolian House Inc., No. 12-3037 (7th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
CBD designs and builds restaurants. Its client, Mongolian House, wanted to renovate an upscale Chicago restaurant called “Plan B.” CBD designed the interior and in 2006 filed blueprints to obtain a “repair and replace” building permit. CBD completed the construction work in 2007. In 2008 a CBD employee visited the city’s offices on other business and chanced upon blueprints for Plan B that were labeled with another architect’s name. The city refused to provide a copy, saying the blueprints were exempt from disclosure. Mongolian House defaulted on payments to CBD. In 2009 the city issued a new building permit for Plan B based on the 2008 blueprints. In 2012 CBD sued, alleging copyright infringement and state-law claims. The district court dismissed the claims under the Copyright Act’s three-year statute of limitations, 17 U.S.C. 507(b), reasoning that CBD was on “inquiry notice” of a possible copyright violation when its employee happened upon the 2008 blueprints. The Seventh Circuit reversed. The Supreme Court recently clarified that the Act’s limitations period establishes a “separate accrual rule” so that “each infringing act starts a new limitations period.” CBD’s complaint alleges potentially infringing acts within the three-year look-back period from the date of suit.