December 28, 2018

Architecture: Is the $4 Billion Resorts World Project an Architectural Copyright Infringement?

It’s all over the news and Google.

“Wynn Resorts Claims $4 Billion Resorts World Project Misleads The Public” (1) Architectural Infringements are the issue.

After a tiff with Walt Disney for abandoning the 20th Century Fox theme park, the Genting Group is facing a lawsuit from another formidable American company.” (1) Wynn is suing Resorts World (Genting Group) for copyright infringement of the architectural design of this Las Vegas strip project. The resort broke ground originally in 2015. The project has seen multiple delays, including the downturn of the recession in 2008. Time will tell if the infringement will cause more delays for the expected 2020 opening.

What does this mean in architectural terms?

Photo by Lorenzo Cafaro from Pexels
Photo by Lorenzo Cafaro from Pexels


The lawsuit states, “The architectural design embodied in defendant’s Resorts World Las Vegas hotel and casino is substantially similar to plaintiff’s registered copyrighted architectural work, and therefore defendant is violating plaintiff’s copyrights in addition to plaintiff’s registered and common law trade dress.”(2)

Copyright Claims in Architectural Works

In a document titled “Copyright Claims in Architectural Works” the United States Copyright office states “An original design of a building created in any tangible medium of expression, including a constructed building or architectural plans, models, or drawings, is subject to copyright protection as an “architectural work” under section 102 of the Copyright Act (title 17 of the United States Code), as amended on December 1, 1990. Protection extends to the overall form as well as the arrangement and composition of spaces and elements in the design but does not include individual standard features or design elements that are functionally required. The term “building” means structures that are habitable by humans and intended to be both permanent and stationary, such as houses and office buildings and other permanent and stationary structures designed for human occupancy, including, but not limited to, churches, museums, gazebos, and garden pavilions.” (3)

Time will tell…

Time will tell what happens next, as Resorts World is expected to respond to the claim by January 14th. The Star online reports “We’ve heard that Genting Group, the owners of Resorts World, may make a play to purchase Wynn Resorts, so the similarity between the hotels could very well be intentional,” said the lawsuit.” Will this cause more delays? Time will tell…

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