Jury Rules in Favor of Hiller, LLC., Finds That Defendants Willfully Infringed Hiller’s Copyright

On March 12, 2019, the jury in Hiller, LLC v. Success Group International Learning Alliance, LLC, found that Success Group International Learning Alliance (SGILA) and its managing member, Rebecca Cassel, willfully infringed a copyright in Hiller Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electrical (Hiller)’s proprietary training manual. Additionally, the jury rejected the defendants’ affirmative defenses and Intervenor Clockwork IP, LLC’s claims of invalidity and ownership.

The case, filed on April 24, 2017, was presided over by Judge Jon Phillips in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, Nashville Division. Jeffrey Catalano and Jason Stearns of Freeborn & Peters LLP represented Hiller. Defendants SGILA and Ms. Cassel were represented by Butler Snow, while Intervenor Clockwork IP was represented by McGuire Woods.

SGILA provides training programs to assist contractors in the home services industry, including direct competitors of Hiller in the heating and cooling, plumbing, and electrical trades. Intervenor Clockwork IP is a subsidiary of Clockwork Home Services, a franchisor for Benjamin Franklin® plumbing, Mr. Sparky® electrical, and One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning®, all of which are also in direct competition with Hiller.

“At Hiller, we attribute our growth and resulting success to our fundamental values, customer-focused training methods, and service protocols”, remarked Jimmy Hiller, founder and CEO of Hiller Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electrical. “Therefore, it is critically important to us”, he continued, “That our intellectual property, which we worked hard to develop, is protected from infringement from groups that wish to capitalize on the success of others.”

Launched in 1990 with a single employee and just $500, Hiller was founded on tenets that are now signatures of the Hiller brand: professionalism, quality work, integrity, a 100% satisfaction guarantee, and dedication to an exceptional customer experience. As a direct result of its unique training programs and core values, Hiller has grown to include over 480 trucks, 13 locations, and more than 630 employees across the southeast.

“We are pleased that the jury recognized the originality of the Technician’s Guide and rightfully admonished defendants for their deliberate copying”, stated Jeffrey Catalano, lead counsel for Hiller in the case. “It is always particularly satisfying when a client is vindicated by a jury of its peers”.

“Mr. Catalano and Mr. Stearns, as well as the entire Freeborn team”, noted Mr. Hiller, “Were a tremendous asset during these unfortunate circumstances and worked diligently to present the truth”.

For more information about these legal proceedings, please refer to U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, Nashville Division Case Number 3:17-cv-00743. Information cited is public record and can be found in online directories.

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