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RE: Duplication of others work.

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Litigation would probably be an expensive effort, however, I believe you are
protected by an implicit copyright for intellectual property. You need to
prove ownership, but it sounds like you have the witnesses to testify to
this. Another form of proof might be to track the details that are being
used (if a dwg file for example) back to it's creation date. You might have
copies on tape or maybe embedded in other projects that you worked on or
created the details for. Go back into your records as far as you can to find
electronic documentation that indicates the date the file was created (or
the vellums from the project that indicate a date of creation).
None of this is fool-proof but should cause the other party to cease using
your details.

John, I'm sensitive to this as well. I have used details created by others
but not without their knowledge and approval. However, I use only a few
details that are generic (residential construction generally requires the
detail to be modified for the unique condition for which it is used).
Therefore, the majority of my details are essentially new for each project.
However, when worked with URM retrofits, a number of the details were used
over and over again since the conditions were typical.

If all you wish to do is stop the culprit from using the details, I suggest
you accumulate your case against him and let him know that you intend to
persue the issue into court if he does not stop.

Good Luck

-----Original Message-----
From: John Lawson [mailto:jlawson(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Monday, October 12, 1998 9:19 PM
To: SEAOC List Server
Subject: Duplication of others work.

My office just received a tip from several sources (governmental and
industry) that my office's standard details and notes are all being used
by another Structural Engineer and contractor in almost exact duplicate
form.  When I spend countless hours fine tuning my unique presentation,
details and notes to make construction go smoothly, it irks me to see
others take advantage of my work using a simple Xerox machine.

I know "imitation is the best form of flattery" but I'm not flattered.
Has anyone else run into such a problem?  This is similar to the "tract
housing" thread earlier this year on this list server. What suggestions
does anyone have?  The plans were not copyrighted with a direct
statement.  Is there a commonlaw copyright implied?

BTW: An explicit copyright is now going to be on the plans, etc.


John Lawson SE
Kramer & Associates Structural Engineers, Inc.