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When attorney Joseph Lurie of Philadelphia’s Galfand Berger recently visited the Web site of Shor, Levin & DeRita, he says he was “astounded” to discover that it included the entire text of the handbook “Workers’ Rights to Workers’ Compensation” that he had written. Worse yet, he says, the copyright information had been deleted and replaced by language that falsely stated that Shor Levin owned the rights to his work. Now Galfand Berger has filed a federal lawsuit accusing Jenkintown, Pa.’s Shor Levin of copyright infringement, removal and alteration of copyright management information, false copyright and unfair competition. In an injunction hearing before U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody, the Shor Levin firm agreed to remove the handbook from its Web site. Attorney Lawrence D. Levin said he wished the Galfand firm hadn’t resorted so quickly to filing a lawsuit. “They could have called,” Levin said. Over the years, he said, Shor Levin has purchased hundreds of copies of the handbook to distribute to its clients. “They sold us this book. If we had known they would object [to posting it on the Internet], we never would have done it,” Levin said. “We hope that we satisfied them by taking it down off the Web site.” But the lawsuit asks for much more than removal. As the Galfand firm says it sees it, Shor Levin has reaped profits from its alleged illegal use of the handbook and should, therefore, be ordered to “account for and pay over to plaintiff all gains, profits and advantages derived by defendant from its unlawful conduct or, in the alternative and at plaintiff’s election, awarding plaintiff statutory damages.” Attorneys David J. Wolfsohn and Shanon Levin Lehman of Philadelphia-based Hangley Aronchick Segal & Pudlin filed the suit accusing Shor Levin of “wholesale copying and false claim of authorship and copyright ownership.” According to the suit, Lurie, who concentrates his practice in workers’ compensation and personal injury law, wrote the handbook in 1983 and promptly registered it with the U.S. Copyright Office. Since then, the suit says, the Galfand firm has regularly printed copies of the book to help clients and workers understand their rights under workers’ compensation laws. Over the years, Lurie has updated the guide to reflect changes in the law, the suit says, and new editions were published in 1997 and 1999. Lurie also assigned all rights in the book to the Galfand firm in 1997, the suit says. The suit says both of the new editions contain a “conspicuous notice” of Lurie’s authorship and the Galfand firm’s copyright. The notice says: “No part of this book may be reproduced by any means without prior written permission of the Copyright owner.” According to the suit, between 1995 and 2000, Shor Levin “purchased hundreds of copies” of the handbook from the Galfand firm. But after 2000, the suit says, the Shor Levin firm stopped making purchases. The suit says Lurie recently read an article by Lawrence Levin in The Legal Intelligencer headlined: “How to Build a Successful Claimant’s Practice” that offered Levin’s advice on how to market and build a successful law practice. Soon after, the suit says, Lurie went to Shor Levin’s Web site, “bulldoglawyers.com,” and found that it “contained virtually the entire 1997 version” of his book. “Indeed, with the exception of removing those portions of the 1997 version that identify or directly relate to Mr. Lurie or Galfand Berger, defendant’s website contains a word-for-word copy of the 1997 version,” the suit says. The 10,000-word, 54-page version of the book accounted for “more than 95 percent of the information” on the Shor Levin Web site, the suit says. The suit also alleges that Shor Levin not only removed copyright information, but also retitled the book “Guide to Workers’ Compensation” and substituted false information that suggested it owned the copyright. Wolfsohn and Lehman are clearly seeking a finding that the infringement was willful. The suit alleges that “Shor Levin knew or should have known that it is not an appropriate marketing technique to steal a competitor’s book and pass the book off as one’s own, while in the process removing any reference to the competitor, and falsely claiming authorship and ownership of a competitor’s intellectual property.” The suit says Shor Levin is a “direct competitor” of the Galfand firm and “solicits the same type of client as Galfand Berger, in particular, individuals injured in both work-related and non-work-related accidents.” By posting the book on its Web site and claiming it as its own, the suit says, Shor Levin was able to “enhance [its] revenues and profits by attracting additional business from existing and prospective clients and to harm plaintiff.” Levin said that he had referred the lawsuit to his firm’s insurance carrier but that no lawyer had yet been hired to defend the case. “It’s a shame we’re fighting. We’re on the same side,” Levin said.

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