Harrisburg architectural firm accuses developer of stealing blueprints for $20 million project

A Harrisburg architectural design firm has accused a Williamsport developer of hacking its plans for a $20 million mixed-use project involving Lycoming College.

Murray Associates Architects and its principal Benedict Dubbs are suing in a lawsuit filed in the United States Intermediate District Court against Pine Ridge Construction Management and PRCM Holdings.

The college, which is not a party to the lawsuit, in the spring of 2020 solicited bids for the Basin Street development project on property it owns.

Similarly, Pine Ridge solicited requests for architectural services including conceptual design, tender documents and construction administration.

Pine Ridge on June 22, 2020, in its submission to the college, included a design prepared by Murray and identified the company and Dubbs as part of its project team.

Pine Ridge won the project and, according to the lawsuit, it ordered Murray to continue providing architectural services.

Although their relationship has not been reduced to writing, Murray points out that his bills have been paid and that PRMC Holdings presented him on October 4 with an owner-architect agreement.

By then, according to Murray, it had completed and billed PRMC for 100% of the programming and design of the project and was in the process of completing the preliminary design phase.

On October 18, PRMC informed Murray by letter that he was terminated, that he would be given an agreement to perform and be credited as the design architect of the project.

In return for this and fair payment for services, PRMC wanted Murray to turn over computer-aided design drawings, models, and digital versions of all renders.

Murray says he offered to execute an agreement giving the PRCM a non-exclusive license to use his architectural works, but PRCM and Pine Ridge president Craig Miller never responded.

Murray has copyrighted his works and argues that Pine Ridge does not have permission to use them and that continuing to do so constitutes infringement.

Despite a cease and desist letter dated December 2, Murray claims that the PRCM and Pine Ridge have removed its logo from architectural works and, on its website, pass them off as their own work.

There are also unpaid bills over $100,000, according to the lawsuit.

The court complaint accuses the defendants of theft and misappropriation of Murray’s intellectual property and states that he informed the college and its project representative, Delta Development Group Inc., of the unauthorized use.

Murray’s claims against PRCM and Pine Ridge include violation of federal copyright laws and payment of Pennsylvania contractors and subcontractors, misappropriation of his architectural works, and breach of contract.

The lawsuits seek damages in excess of $100,000, an injunction restraining the defendants from using Murray’s works, and the return of anything that reflects or contains the company’s intellectual property.

Attempts to get a reaction from the defendants and Lycoming College were unsuccessful.

The Williamsport Planning Commission this week sent plans for the project to city council with a positive recommendation.

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