A training software provider has gone public with a copyright infringement lawsuit against Top 100 Firm Dixon Hughes Goodman and the Institute of Internal Auditors after a DHG employee published excerpts from some of its training materials on the firm’s website and it was later used by an IIA chapter as well.

Compliance Education Institute LLC announced the lawsuit Wednesday. It said that a manager in DHG’s risk practice enrolled in its Certified Regulatory Vendor Program Manager course and received the certification in 2015, and that another DHG employee then posted a four-part series using excerpts from the course materials on the firm’s website that year, citing the DHG employees as co-authors. The IIA’s chapter in Charlotte, N.C., then posted a version of DHG’s series on its website as well.

CEI accused DHG of 35 instances of plagiarism from its materials. They have been negotiating a settlement for months, but the company went public with the dispute Wednesday.

The atrium at Dixon Hughes Goodman's headquarters in Charlotte, N.C.
The atrium at Dixon Hughes Goodman's headquarters in Charlotte, N.C. Courtesy of Dixon Hughes Goodman

“It’s David vs Goliath,” said Compliance Education Institute CEO Mick Kless in a statement. “After many months of trying to resolve this issue with this 2,000-employee, top 20 audit firm without satisfactory result, I felt that it was best to file a complaint in court and post the complaint and the exhibits to our website. Let the legal system and jury of public opinion draw their own conclusion. View the evidence and you be the judge.”

The company posted a side-by-side comparison of similar sentences in the training materials, as well as the legal complaint on its website, and is promising to reveal more examples every week.

Dixon Hughes Goodman said it had been working in good faith on a settlement with CEI before the company filed suit and went public with its allegations.

“DHG is aware of the allegations being made against the firm by Compliance Education Institute,” said a statement forwarded by firm spokesperson Alice Grey. “As soon as DHG was notified of concerns by CEI about the use of excerpts of educational materials CEI claims to have developed, we promptly removed all copies of the materials in question from our website and other publicly accessible locations. It is important to point out that DHG received no revenue from the use of the information and has since tried in good faith to resolve the issue with CEI. Rather than working with us to reach a fair and amicable solution, CEI has chosen to file a lawsuit in what appears to be a strategy to negatively impact DHG’s reputation to obtain an unsubstantiated settlement. DHG has a long-standing reputation as an industry leader and as a trusted advisor to its clients. The firm is hopeful that this matter can be resolved soon.”

IIA spokesman John Babinchak declined to comment on the lawsuit, saying, "It's our policy not to comment on pending or ongoing litigation matters."

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