JASPER, Ind. (WEHT) – Omaha-based Design Basics, LLC is on the hook for more than $500,000 in attorney’s fees after a federal judge ruled in favor of Jasper-based Kerstiens Homes & Designs Inc.
In 2018, Kersteins became the first Indiana builder to prevail in court, and last week Design Basics was ordered to pay Kerstein’s attorney’s fees which reached $518,457.80.
“This amount is believed to be the largest attorney fee award against Design Basics,” said Paul B. Overhauser, an intellectual-property infringement attorney based in Greenfield, Ind., who represented Kerstiens. “Copyright infringement is one of the few types of cases where a losing plaintiff can be ordered to pay the defendant’s attorney’s fees. That is especially important to smaller businesses who can’t afford major litigation.”
Design Basics has filed over 120 lawsuits, 42 of which were against Indiana home builders.
Design Basics has more than 2,800 plans and has distributed almost 200 home catalogs.
The lawsuits surround home design plans.
A judge in the Kersteins case ruled that while some of the designs had comparable floor plans, that was not enough to prove copying.
“In the end, Design Basics’ theory that copyright protection extends to a mere floor plan of a simple house design was reject
ed by the court,” said Overhauser. “Kerstiens has been known for decades throughout Southern Indiana as a well-respected builder. It’s a shame that it got swept up in this litigation, but at least Design Basics is going to have to cover its attorney’s fees.”
Design Basics has not prevailed so far at trial in any of its cases.
(This story was originally published on October 7, 2019)