Legal Battle between Marlon Blackwell Architects and HBG Design Ignites the Debate of Architectural Intellectual Property

Marlon Blackwell Architects and HBG’s Renderings of the Saracen Casino in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Image

Following two years of legal disputes, 2020 AIA Gold Medalist Marlon Blackwell and HBG Design have reached a settlement to their infamous Saracen Casino case. The award-winning firm claimed that it was responsible for the design of the Saracen Casino in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, however, HBG Design, a Memphis design firm who Blackwell brought into the project as architect-of-record was taking credit for it instead. After performing extensive design work from 2017 to March 2019 then being abruptly fired from the project, MBA sued HBG for “copyright infringement, attribution, tortious interference, breach of contract, and unjust enrichment”.

Although the case was settled, the battle is yet another incident in the ongoing debate of intellectual property in architecture, and the legal implications between design architects and architects of record. 

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