CHARLESTON -- A company has filed a federal copyright infringement case against a West Virginia company and its owner, citing unauthorized copying, reproduction, and distribution of its copyrighted material.

The suit against American Contractors Exam Services, Inc., (ACES) of Tennessee and its owner, Irelan Queen, claims that Prov, Inc., of Utah the test copyright holder, has suffered permanent damage because of their infringement.

According to the suit, Prov "is a corporation dedicated to serving the needs of occupational assessment and licensing markets by developing and administering assessment, certification, and licensing exams for various clients across the country."

The West Virginia Division of Labor and the West Virginia Contractor's Licensing Board contracted Prov to test and license for WV contractors in Charleston, Morgantown, Martinsburg, and Wheeling. ACES, operated by Queen, offers exam preparation seminars in Charleston and Morgantown.

Filed by Russell Jessee and Michael Smith of the Charleston firm of Steptoe & Johnson and Jennifer Semko and Kevin Sullivan of the Washington D.C. firm of Baker & McKenzie, Prov alleges that within weeks of publishing its first licensing exam, ACES and Queen copied and distributed it to their customers. Prov believes ACES and Queen even made up practice tests containing identical questions to those on the exam.

However, it was not a one-time occurrence.

According to Prov, ACES and Queen registered their own employees for the licensing exams to obtain test copies, which were later reproduced in test preparation materials.

Prov believes that as a direct result of ACES and Queen's misconduct, the value of the West Virginia contractor's exam has been permanently damaged and that the validity of exam scores by those who have used ACES and Queen's preparation materials can be questioned.

Filed Sept. 5, the suit states that because of these actions some potentially unqualified individuals may have become licensed contractors, putting the public in harm's way.

The two tests that the ACES and Queen are accused of infringing are the General Building Contractor and Business and Law tests, which were copyrighted on June 25, 2008. Because Queen's business, ACES, is the design and sale of exam preparation courses, Prov alleges it has made a significant profit selling Prov's copyrighted material.

Prov is seeking a trial by jury to award actual or statutory damages, pre- and post-judgment interest and litigation costs.

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