Porter Davis issued proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia in 2005, alleging Carlisle Homes infringed the copyright in Porter Davis’ Seattle home design, and its later updates the Memphis and Aberdeen.
Justice Heery found Carlisle Homes’ Provence house design infringed copyright in the Porter Davis houses and plans by copying an “alfresco quadrant” which he deemed “original and deserving of copyright protection”.
The directors of Carlisle Homes were found by the Court to have given “consciously untrue evidence” and “colluded in doing so”.
Porter Davis will now seek either damages or an account of profits from Carlisle Homes as well as its costs. As part of the verdict Carlisle Homes must disclose the number of Provence homes it has sold.
Tony Watson, a partner at law firm Middletons who acted for Porter Davis said the decision is especially relevant to architects, designers, draftsmen and builders – including owner builders.
“The industry should remain aware of the legal consequences of having had reference to other builder’s plans and designs,” he said.
Watson is representing Porter Davis in proceedings against Australia’s third biggest home builder Metricon, in what is shaping up to be a much more expensive dispute.
Metricon is appealing a verdict by the Courts last year that it too infringed Porter Davis “alfresco quadrant” in its house designs – the Prada, Tyrell, Streeton, Connelly and Coburn.
Last month Porter Davis launched a second round of legal action against Metricon, saying its designs have been further copied in Metricon’s Aspen, Ashton, Zenith and Jardine range.
Porter Davis is also fighting in the courts with builder Dennis Family Homes.