A Lawrence couple who built a unique home and want to keep it that way are suing a Five Towns family they claim copied their design.
Rivka and Seth Fortgang built a house in their Lawrence neighborhood in 2005 with plans that include a special facade created by Rivka, an interior and exterior designer. The couple then registered the designs with the U.S. Copyright Office, but were dismayed when they learned that a couple in Cedarhurst was building a home this year with similarities, according to a lawsuit the Fortgangs filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court.
Richard Schurin, the Fortgangs’ Garden City attorney, declined to comment on the case. But in the complaint, the couple accuses Daniella and Ari Schwartz and their architect of copyright infringement for planning to build a “substantially similar” facade, causing “irreparable harm” to Rivka Fortgang’s design business.
The suit seeks to prevent the Schwartzes from continuing to use the design and asks them to pay statutory damages and attorney fees.
Daniel Schloss, the Schwartz family’s Manhattan attorney, did not respond to a request for comment.
According to the filings, the Fortgangs say they have evidence the Schwartzes obtained copies of the blueprints from the Village of Lawrence Building Department in August 2015. The Fortgangs sent a letter to the Schwartzes on June 7 notifying them of the copyright and asking them to cease and desist.
But a response letter from Schloss’ office dated June 14 dismissed the infringement claims, arguing the Fortgangs’ design isn’t unique enough to claim protection and “any attempt to assert such a claim would be frivolous.”
Construction on the Schwartz home has been suspended until the case is settled, according to court documents.