Mexican-born architect Fernando Donis has filed a lawsuit against the municipality of Dubai for copyright infringement after it selected him as the winner of an international design competition then proceeded to erect the building he designed without crediting him for his work or involving him in the construction process.
Scheduled to open this year, ‘The Dubai Frame‘ consists of two towers connected by an observation deck. Donis’s design was chosen nearly a decade ago from a pool of more than nine hundred proposals. While the architect received the USD 100,000 prize for winning the competition, Dubai’s municipality has since tried to pressure him to give up his intellectual property rights for the project.
“It’s shocking,” Donis said. “‘The Frame’ is mine, and they don’t want to grant that it is mine. The infringement doesn’t just victimise me, they have taken something from all architects—the protection of our ideas.”
The 2008 contest called for a tall and iconic structure that would contribute ‘to the face of Dubai’ and draw at least two million tourists annually. After Donis was announced as the winner, he was flown to Dubai where he was honored at a dinner at the Raffles Hotel and was allowed to present the project to the prince.
According to the competition’s rules, the architect was entitled to the copyright of the design, which would only be used by the city after a contract was drawn up and signed. While the municipality was allegedly writing up the document it tried to force Donis to transfer the copyright by threatening to hire a local firm and claiming he didn’t have the proper licenses to work on the project.