Original? Shine concept from 1999. Copy? SOM tower scheme in 2004.

Architect David M. Childs and the New York City office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill have until Nov. 29 to answer a complaint that alleges Childs "copied" the work of Thomas Shine for the Freedom Tower at the World Trade Center.

Nov. 29 is "the initial deadline for the defendants," says Andrew Baum, Shine’s New York City lawyer. "If they ask for an extension, we’ll grant it," he adds.

The suit says Childs in 1999 "examined," "reviewed" and "commended" Shine’s designs for a skyscraper. Shine then was a student at the Yale School of Architecture and Childs served on a jury for Shine’s design studio project.

"The Freedom Tower is strikingly similar to Shine’s original works and infringes Shine’s rights in these works," charges the complaint, filed Nov. 8 in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York.

Elizabeth Kubany, SOM’s public relations director, calls the suit "specious." While the designs share "some common elements," most have been industry standards for decades, she says. A number of people have claimed credit for Freedom Tower design elements but SOM has combined these in a "unique way," she adds.