Wednesday, September 27, 2023
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Skyscraper Bragging Rights May Be in Reach

CHICAGO (CN) - An architecture firm has until March 7 to amend claims over the bragging rights to the design of the Shanghai Tower, soon to be the second tallest building in the world, a federal judge ruled.

From 2006 to 2010, Jay Marshall Strabala worked as design director for the architecture firm M. Arthur Gensler Jr. & Associates. In this capacity, he participated in the design of several buildings, including the Shanghai Tower, the Hess Tower in Houston and the Houston Ballet Center.

Upon its completion in 2014, the Shanghai Tower will be the second tallest building in the world, rising 2,073 feet and boasting 128 stories.

Prior to his employment with Gensler, Strabala helped design the 163-story Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the tallest building in the world at 2,723 feet.

Strabala left Gensler in 2010 to form his own company, 2define Architecture, based in Chicago. On the firm's website, Strabala professed to have designed each of the aforementioned buildings, among others.

Gensler sued Strabala in 2011 to stifle these claims. Gensler said Strabala merely belonged to a Gensler team that was responsible for the projects, and that the statements on 2define's website misrepresented his contribution to the design projects.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman dismissed the complaint without prejudice last week for failure to state a claim.

"Gensler contends that Strabala's declaration of design of the listed buildings constitutes false designation of origin and false advertising in violation of the Lanham Act and state trademark laws," Guzman wrote. "The court disagrees."

"Both the First and Ninth Circuits have recognized that where there is an alleged statement of false authorship, such claims should be pursued under copyright law."

Additionally, Supreme Court precedent "holds that 'origin of goods' with regard to the Lanham Act 'refers to the producer of the tangible goods that are offered for sale, and not to the author of any idea, concept, or communication embodied in those goods," Guzman added.

Therefore, "the court holds that the Lanham Act does not provide a cause of action for false advertising where the claim is based on the authorship of a creative work," the six-page decision states.

Guzman gave Gensler 15 days to file an amended complaint before he dismisses the case with prejudice.

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