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April 22, 2024

Design Work for Owners and Engineers

Q: Does doing system design drawings to the specific system/product level put us at risk if there were ever any issue with the design? Have you ever seen a contractor provide any kind of disclaimer with their drawings? Should we provide one?

A: A few thoughts:

When providing conceptual proposal drawings directly to an owner, include a disclaimer that these drawings and their contents are the property of “Insert Your Company Name Here” and are intended only to clarify the associated proposal. They may not be used for any purpose other than to assist the evaluation of our proposal. (your drawings and designs are an intellectual property and should be treated as proprietary)
When providing conceptual drawings to an engineer, don’t do it unless you are assured they are for design-build purposes and you have the job locked up. However, if the engineer stamps the drawing the “contractor” who created them has no risk (add your disclaimer again stating this). At that point if an issue arises the engineers Errors &Omissions insurance takes over.
This is a tough call when working with a longtime allied business professional. Remember you never need to apologize for making decisions in the best interest of your company and using your design to potentially benefit a competitor is a business decision you need to make.
When evaluating your corporate insurance policy, contractors should include Errors & Omissions in the policy if they initiate the design. We normally think of this as something only architects, engineers and consultants need, but since you do the design it should be part of your insurance policy.
Always provide a copyright statement protecting your intellectual property on the drawings (and for that matter your entire proposal).
Use this disclaimer: “The system design and information contained in this drawing set is proprietary and may not be reproduced or disclosed to a third party in any form without the written permission of Insert Company Name Inc.”

As you can tell, I have a fairly strong opinion about this, so yes in my opinion always use a disclaimer. CW

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