Savant Homes, Inc. v Collins

Savant sued Collins and her contractor alleging copyright infringement and other claims arising from the building of two houses Savant alleged were similar to one of its models. The district court granted summary judgement to Collins. The panel affirmed. It held that Collins’ expert’s affidavit which stated under oath that the allegedly protected elements of Savant’s model were actually common elements of three bedroom ranch homes and that the arrangement of features was also common placed the burden on Savant to counter the affidavit and it failed to provide any facts or analysis to demonstrate uniqueness, originality or distinction. The panel rejected Savant’s argument to the contrary holding the district court only applied the abstraction-filter-compare test after concluding there were no protectable elements or arrangements, that test can be applied to architectural plans and the district court actually considered savant’s expert report in its analysis. Thus, summary judgement was properly granted on the infringement, contributory infringement and conspiracy claims. The panel affirmed on trade dress as well holding Savant failed to present any evidence their model design was inherently distinct or had acquired a secondary meaning and thus the claim failed as a matter of law.