How to Navigate Software Legal Agreements

This post originally appeared on the Louisiana Technology Park blog.

Technology is progressing so rapidly that laws regarding software can’t keep up, creating complex legal issues for both software companies and customers to navigate, a New Orleans-based technology lawyer told tech industry representatives recently at the Louisiana Technology Park.

Parker Smith, an intellectual property and technology lawyer with the firm Stone Pigman, gave an overview of software legal agreements during the Tech Park Academy event.

“We’ve been having some really exciting developments in the industry that are affecting law and agreements between parties in interesting ways … and we have to get creative in how we deal with those developments,” he says.

Smith says technology companies need to understand the legal strategies surrounding the development, ownership and monetization of digital operations before they start engaging with companies or vendors. He outlined three common types of contracts for software development, highlighting key factors to consider with each.

Development Agreements

Software development agreements typically involve a software firm that is hired to develop a customized software product or add-on. This type of arrangement is essentially a professional services agreement, Smith says.

Smith says that in these cases, developers should try to disclaim as many warranties as possible — for example, not promising in the contract that they have not infringed on any other software, which is nearly impossible to verify. “Of course customers are going to push back and want you to be liable for everything,” he says.

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