Author: GK Communications: Amy Goldsmith (310) 440-0646

CELEBRITY ARCHITECT AWARDED 5.9 MILLION FOR COPIED PLANS “Copycat” Verdict Tests 1990 Federal Architectural Copyright Act; Becomes Country’s Largest and Only Verdict Against a Third Party Contractor/Homeowner

LOS ANGELES–13 April, 05- In a verdict that will further protect the work of architects and lead to liability for contractors and homeowners responsible for unauthorized use of architectural plans, a jury awarded Los Angeles-based William Hablinski Architecture (currently DBA Hablinski+Manion Architecture) a 5.9 million verdict after its plans for a multimillion dollar home were copied and used to build a structure replicating the original.

Following a three week trial, a six-member jury deliberated for a day-and-a-half before determining that two firms, Amir Construction, Inc., and EuroConcepts, Inc., — and the four Elihu brothers who own the companies — conspired with Mehran Shahverdi, a former Hablinski+Manion employee, to copy plans for a million Bel-Air, California mansion. The copied plans were use to build a million Beverly Hills home.

“Mr. Hablinski took a legal stand in favor of all architects and artisans who have a right to protect their work and inspiration,” said Peter J. Bezek, the attorney representing Hablinski+Manion. “This was difficult and expensive litigation for a man who believed in the integrity of artistic work and he was not dissuaded by those who warned him that he could not win and the costs could bankrupt his firm. I am very proud of his integrity and dedication.”

“This is a significant verdict because it confirms the broad scope of copyright protection available to architects and other artists,” said Roger N. Behle, Jr., co-counsel for Hablinski+Manion. “Third parties, such as contractors and homeowners, can be held liable for the infringing activities of those they hire. As a result, homeowners must be very careful when they hire someone to design plans. It is up to the homeowner to know who they are dealing with.”According to comments made in court and to the media when the suit was filed, the Elihu brothers claimed they had no idea the plans were copied.

After designing a custom home worth millions of dollars for Los Angeles real estate mogul Fred Sands, Hablinski and his employees discovered a shockingly similar home seven miles to the west. The designer of the “Copycat House” was a former draftsman at Hablinksi + Manion Architecture. The owner of the “copycat” house is the president of EuroConcepts, the firm that provided the plumbing and bath fixtures for the original Fred Sands design.

The federal suit filed in September of 2003 alleged copyright and trademark infringement, unfair competition, conspiracy and other claims. The suit tested and solidified the bounds of the Architectural Works Copyright Protection Act of 1990. Previously, architects could only copyright their architectural plans, but this law extends the protection to building designs as well.

“I use original compositions and very distinct elements that are my signature to create one-of-a-kind homes,” said William Hablinksi. “I spent more than 3,800 hours creating the Sands home and it was painful for me, my employees and our client to see a copycat down the road.”

Hablinksi encourages other architects to register copyrights on all their work and pursue damages if a copyright is infringed.

Hablinski+Manion is still seeking damages from Mehran Shahverdiin a state court arbitration proceeding. This matter is still pending.

Hablinski + Manion is best known for its respect of traditional forms and historic imagery. The award-winning firm has designed many of the large-scale custom homes that line the mountainous Mulholland Drive corridor and exclusive streets in Beverly Hills, Bel-Air and Pacific Palisades. The Firm’s commissions include the Mayfair Condominium in New York City, Villas Del Mar Condominium in Pasadena, Calif. and residences for Oak Creek Canyon Ranch in Montecito, Calif., as well as designs for such notable clients as Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck, Jim Carrey, and Vanna White.

With the average custom designed residence at 20,000 square feet, celebrities, business moguls and the social elite turn to Hablinski + Manion Architecture to create elegant residences that rival the finest chateaus in France and villas in Italy.

About Hablinski + Manion Architecture
Founded in 1978, Hablinski + Manion Architecture is considered one of the Country’s foremost large-scale architects. William Hablinski and Richard Manion’s designs are internationally renowned for their respect to traditional forms and historic imagery. The architecture carefully integrates unique design elements into outwardly graceful environments that provide the Firm’s signature of simple elegance. With more than 24 employees, Hablinski + Manion Architecture has offices in Beverly Hills and Austin, Texas. For more information, please visit: