using drones in business

Real Estate Litigation Lawyers’ Advice on Drone Use for Milwaukee Businesses

As shoppers approach the holiday season, they’re likely to collide – sometimes literally – with one of the high-tech drones that are sweeping their way through the American market. A recent quick online search from one retailer identified a half-dozen or so for sale. Some drones have cameras; others do not. One “2-pack” of aerial “warriors” was priced at just a hundred dollars.

Not All Drones Are Toys

While quite a few drones are only toys, there are serious models that can be quite useful in business. Indeed, drone use in the real estate industry has “taken off” in recent months. Uses include at least the following:

  • Facilitation of construction project inspections – drones can get into tight spots, often high off the ground, where it might be hazardous for personnel
  • Creation of real time mapping of the movement of soil and other materials at a work site
  • Assisting land surveyors in preparation of property reports – the drones can note exact location of landmarks, etc.
  • Assisting brokers in producing high-tech marketing materials, with “fly-bys” and zooms

Some Retailers Are Intrigued, As Well

A host of retailers, including Walmart and Amazon, have begun research to determine if drones can be effective and economical package deliverers. In one experiment, a convenience store chain successfully delivered a chicken sandwich, donuts, and hot coffee to a private home in Reno, Nevada. Several San Francisco pharmacies are testing the use of drones as prescription delivery “agents.”

Drone Use May Pose Special Challenge for Commercial Real Estate Owners and Operators

As the presence of drones becomes more and more ubiquitous, owners and operators of office buildings, as well as industrial and retail operations, have a number of concerns that must be addressed. Here are some tips to protect your business and its customers/clients:

Tip 1: Particularly if you have a mixed-use facility, review your building rules and regulations so as to handle the drone technology. If a tenant conducts business with a firm that uses drones to deliver goods or provide services, how should liability for collisions be handled?

Tip 2: Does drone use interfere with a tenant’s rights to “quiet use” and enjoyment? Discuss the matter with existing tenants and negotiate concerns with prospective ones.

Tip 3: Recognize that the “invasion” of a tenant’s “airspace” by a drone may be considered an adverse use. It may, therefore, be subject to the normal real estate rules regarding the acquisition of easements and other permitted uses.

Tip 4: Recognize that some municipalities are beginning to talk about drone zoning ordinances in order to protect the privacy of some citizens. Don’t assume that just because a tenant or other commercial real estate customer wants to utilize a drone, the tenant or customer can do it with impunity.

Those in the know predict that drone ownership and use will increase by staggering proportions during the coming years. It will certainly be interesting to see how Wisconsin real estate laws deal with the many issues drones create. Our law tends not to keep pace with technology. Prudent business owners and operators will get out ahead of the potential problems caused by drone use. As history reflects, at first, many Americans thought automobiles were novelty items. That turned out differently, didn’t it?


Don’t get blindsided by the expanded use of drones. Review your existing leases, contracts, and other business agreements to determine what exposure you might have based upon the significant increase in drone use within Wisconsin and the U.S. Kerkman Wagner & Dunn – a Milwaukee business litigation firm with more than 50 years of combined legal experience representing business owners in Wisconsin – has the sort of experience, insight, and innovative skill to assist you in all your real estate legal issues. We’re known for our big firm talent and our small firm attention. Call us at 414-278-7000 or complete our online contact form.

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