IT/ Software

 

Projects

IT projects need meticulous contract management, because alterations to technical requirements frequently have to be reflected in amendments to the underlying agreements as well. In practice, it is essential to stipulate performance specifications correctly in order to provide a contract with a sound legal basis. Close cooperation between the attorney and the client is vital to ensure that the contract encompasses both technical and legal aspects. But there’s more to successfully realizing an IT project than just drawing up the right contract. Various developments may call for further action during actual implementation. For instance, change requests, acceptance of partial performance and software tests all need precise, written documentation in conformance with the terms of the agreement, if firm evidence is to be furnished in the event of a dispute. We can help you with the legal aspects of managing even large-scale IT projects, so that wherever possible, problems relating to performance of the contract can be anticipated and eliminated in advance. Issues covered by general contract law such as guarantees, liability and Terms & Conditions are just as important as issues covered by intellectual property law, such as patents, copyrights and know-how.

The institutional framework needs to be prepared from a legal perspective as well. Complex software is not only developed in a conventional customer/contractor relationship, it may also be created in a joint venture, as part of an EU project, or by independent firms and different teams of software engineers. Whatever the set-up, the contract has to reflect all the parties’ individual requirements and interests.

Support

For providers and users alike, maintaining the software is always an essential factor. Support and maintenance assignments may well be the economic mainstay of a software business. At the other end, the user must be able to depend on having software errors eliminated and application problems solved if the system is to run smoothly. So for both sides the scope of support services is quite essential, but the range of services needed depends on the program being used. For this reason, standard contracts rarely produce the desired effect of covering all the various aspects involved in every single case. Therefore, we see it as our job to draw up contracts that are customized to meet your particular needs. A thorough understanding of the software concerned is absolutely fundamental to this task. In the light of our experience, we will devise the soultion that fits your needs best.

Licensing

Copyright law gives licensors much leeway to use any number of licensing models. Rights can be exploited to the full by imposing restrictions on licensing periods, territory and content, or by dividing rights of use between different licensees. But for various reasons, extensive licensing using the open source model may also be preferred. In view of the numerous possibilities available, we consider it absolutely essential to provide both legal counsel and business consulting. We regard it as our job to show you all the opportunities offered under licensing law to give you a sound basis for making business decisions. But we don’t leave it at that; we can also draft German and English license agreements specifically for your purposes.

Software Litigation

Software is a likely candidate for copyright infringement, and conflict cannot always be avoided. Both out-of-court conflict management and forensic work call for special know-how going beyond knowledge of general contract law. Thus, inspection rights may have to be enforced to prove that a source code has been illegally used or a temporary injunction may have to be obtained to prevent further infringements. We feel that if your legal position is to be successfully upheld in court, competence in legal matters is just as important as a grasp of the technical issues.

Julian Höppner, LL.M.
Dr. Till Jaeger
Dr. Lina Böcker