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ROYAL OAK, MI-Two developers have filed two separate copyright violation lawsuits in US District Court claiming competitors have stolen their design for a 12-unit multifamily development. Dominic Moceri, owner of Moceri Cos. of Auburn Hills and Michael Chirco of MJC Homes of Macomb Township are asking for damages and legal fees in excess of $25 million, says their Royal Oak-based attorney, Stephen Wasinger.

He tells GlobeSt.com the two builders are being copied by Centex Homes and locally-based Crosswinds Communities.

Centex is a division of Centex Corp. of Texas. The president and chief executive officer of Crosswinds, Bernard Glieberman, is also named in the suit. Bernard Cantor, representing Centex and Crosswinds, did not return a call for comment.

The products in question are 12-unit condominiums that have built-in garages, six on each side. The units are two-story buildings, with four condos on the first floor and eight on the second floor, with each unit provided private access to their garage.

Wasinger says his clients designed the certain style of condominiums, which were copied exactly by the defendants.

“You can put a copy of their floor plans over copies of our plans, and they would match almost exactly,” Wasinger says. “There may be a few slight differences, but they’re virtually identical.”

He says building plans, just like a Beatles song or a newspaper article, can be protected by copyright law.

“Copyright doesn’t require you to be a genius,” Wasinger says. “Just because it’s a design for a four-bedroom doesn’t mean it’s unique.”

The case is before Judge Victoria Roberts. There will be a hearing Oct. 29 on an injunction to prevent Centex from building a condominium development project in Canton.

Roberts already agreed with Wasinger that the plans are similar, and has let the case proceed.

Wasinger claims the defendants are copying the plans because they’re successful.

“Even with absorption being the way it is, these units have been good sellers,” Wasinger says.

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