Almost nobody goes into business wanting to read, draft, and edit contracts. And yet, nothing really gets done until all parties to a business arrangement get the right words together and sign off on them. An experienced lawyer can give easily understood advice and efficiently handle a number of contract tasks.
Writing Your Own
When my clients need to develop their own agreements, I remind them that contracts do not have to be scary, they don’t have to be hard to read, and they don’t necessarily have to be long. But they do have to address and protect the business needs of all parties. Approached the right way, developing a contract is not necessarily an unpleasant experience. In fact, whether your offering is product, a service, a traditional software license, or software as a service (SaaS), getting things in writing can be a great way to find the full range of opportunities within a business relationship.
Particularly in the technology world, dealing with incoming contracts already drafted by your suppliers, partners, or customers can be a huge distraction. For example, software license agreements can be twenty pages long or longer, commonly with dense text containing industry-specific legal language. These contracts can be difficult for the average businessperson to understand. You may be tempted to simply avoid reading them and sign the agreements, but what’s the point of signing off on an incoming software license if you don’t really know what you’re getting?
Open Source Licenses
What about agreements you don’t even know you’re entering into? Software companies often enter into dozens or hundreds of open source licenses without understanding the impact those licenses have on their business. Sometimes the number and scope of these licenses aren’t known even at the time a company is preparing itself for sale or looking for outside investment. In those cases, handling numerous complex and potentially conflicting open source licenses can be a huge chore and may turn into a legal liability.
I am experienced in helping my clients understand the open source licenses they are already subject to. I also help clients to evaluate and change their procedures for using external code to minimize exposure to open source license problems.
Software License Disputes and Audit Responses
Your business software licensors (that is, the people who make and sell the software you use) may at times want to know whether you are using software appropriately. To do this, they may invoke an audit clause in your commercial software license. Responding to these requests doesn’t have to be difficult, but doing it with the help of an attorney experienced in the process can save time and work on your part and increase the chances that you’ll be happy with the audit results.