Architects May Retain Rights to Plans Under AIA Documents

Kegler Brown Construction Newsletter

The AIA contract documents basically provide that the plans remain the property of the Architect, even after they are paid for by the Owner. This can act as a difficult impediment to project completion if the Owner is forced to terminate the Architect.

In one recent case, an Owner hired an Architect to design a restaurant. The Owner then showed the plans to another Architect that was hired because the Owner was dissatisfied with the original plans. The Court found copyright infringement by the Owner for showing the plans to another Architect.

Therefore, Owners should consider revising the AIA documents to provide that the plans become the property of the Owner when they are prepared and paid for, and can be utilized by others on that project.