Legal Services to IT Industry

The IT industry, in addition to manufacturing and integrated services, is among the fast-growing industries. Lawyers are essential for IT companies, not only to provide typical legal services, such as labour law or corporate matters, but also for specific nature of IT contracts.
The weakness of contracts in the IT industry brings huge losses to software developers, who, as shown by recent media reports, give away the proverbial pennies, huge profits to game producers with spectacular market successes.
Bartłomiej Bednarz
Legal Counsel

Comprehensive IT services include the creation and implementation of complex IT systems, often with the supply of equipment and software licenses from leading global manufacturers. Agreements such as: service level agreements, agile agreements, cascade agreements, waterfall agreements, maintenance agreements, or comprehensive agreements for the provision of IT services are exemplary legal products for the IT industry.

A lawyer dedicated to an IT company must be familiar with the specific vocabulary and structure of an IT contract. Source codes and their use may result in unforeseen costs for the software developer regarding their use without the appropriate license, or their loss and free use by other software manufacturers.

The complexity and duration of IT projects requires IT contracts to provide for numerous solutions and allow for modification of the IT implementation process. Specialist knowledge is the basic requirement from an IT lawyer. Our Law Firm with its own IT legal department provides legal services to a number of IT companies.

Another important issue in the IT industry are copyright and its protection as well as the granting of appropriate licenses. Copyright lists an example of a catalog of fields of exploitation. In the case of a software contract, the parties, in addition to fields of exploitation typical for general works, such as use or reproduction, will often use the record of using the work, which consists in making it public so that everyone can have access to it in a place and time chosen by oneself (Article 50 point 3 of the Copyright Law). This field is sometimes referred to as the Internet. This will be the case, for example, when the created software is an online store. Simulcasting or webcasting will, however, already constitute separate fields of exploitation from the aforementioned public disclosure under Art. 50 point 3 of the Act, as transmission in these cases does not allow recipients to choose the time to become acquainted with a specific work.

In addition, it is recommended to indicate the possibilities of editing the code by the ordering party in the contract, i.e. whether the code will be fully open or not. If the ordering party does not have full access to the code, it is likely that at some point there will be a need to address subsequent orders modifying the original software to the contractor, i.e. in a sense dependence on it, which is not only uncomfortable, but also increases the costs of the entire implementation.

IT contracts should be customised to the project’s circumstances. A typical implementation where the supplier is responsible for the end result is not always a suitable solution for a service contract. Here, a contract of specific work or a mixed contract will be appropriate. However, there are also situations where a service contract will be recommended. This is the case, for example, when the implementation is carried out by the client, alone or with the participation of another supplier, and the supplier merely supports the client in the process. A service contract is usually a standard consulting contract for the support of consultants. Another situation is consulting work to prepare a report, here two versions are used. In one version the report it is a work, in the other it is not, and the entire contract is a contract for the provision of services. Both positions are founded.

A particular type of contracts are all types of maintenance contracts or outsourcing contracts. As a rule, they will also be based on the construction of service contracts. In both cases, however, additional elements may be required. In the case of service, e.g. small works (additional works), and in the case of outsourcing, provisions related to the sale or lease of equipment or the takeover of employees will be applied.

 

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