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IT Services and Cloud Computing

From database and software development rights to outsourcing technology, Cloud solutions and selling online, there are wide-ranging intellectual property (IP) technology challenges and opportunities for both developing and established businesses.

Thorntons’ technology legal specialists can help ensure your business makes the most of your IT intellectual property assets and commercial opportunities, as well as keeping you right on online regulation and effective IT services procurement terms.

Technology issues

Here we look at some of the key IT and Cloud computing areas that can impact on business rights. 

If you are a software developer looking to license your software for customer use, your software rights need to be protected by commercial agreements. Comprehensive licensing agreements such as software contracts can ensure IP rights and IP security are maintained, and properly valued.

If you are looking to be a reseller of another’s software, for instance of an American product in the UK, you will need a reseller agreement covering the rights involved and the reselling terms.

Businesses looking to access or use software, or to install or update IT systems, want robust supplier and licensing agreements in place to ensure they get the services needed on the right terms. In addition, the procurement process for IT services particularly in large organisations can benefit from early legal advice to ensure a rigorous process that covers all needed rights issues.

At Thorntons, we can help both developers and business customers on licensing issues, negotiating and drafting agreements, including supplier agreements. We can also offer procurement advice on IT services tenders and draft terms. 

In addition, we can help if things go wrong, for example if a customer you have licensed technology to is not using it as they should.

If your business is looking to outsource key areas like IT support and payroll, you may find a Cloud-hosted solution fits in with your business needs. Such arrangements can prove cost-effective and provide the flexibility wanted, but you need to ensure you comply with data protection regulation and have the necessary software licensing in place.  We can advise you on the necessary compliance and licensing agreement issues.

If you sell goods or services online, collect personal data from customers (including payment details) or offer a blog or forum to users of your website, there are legislative requirements that you must meet, including data protection and ecommerce regulations.

With ecommerce sites, you will need to ensure your terms and conditions are aligned with ecommerce regulations. Currently, UK regulations are harmonised with the EU’s, but potentially this may change with Brexit.

Our Technology team provide legal advice to a wide range of businesses who operate online. We can help on a range of issues regarding your internet-based business, such as domain name disputes, website terms and conditions, privacy policies, or what you can or cannot do with the data you collect from your customers.

We also have particular expertise in advising on issues surrounding social media sites, including clearance for third party rights, service availability, handling of personal data, reputational risk and notice & takedown procedures.

A ‘database’ is a system which allows information to be stored and retrieved on demand in a timely and cost-effective way. For example, a review website such as TripAdvisor would be considered to be an information database. If you have a database which is original, it may qualify for protection through copyright and/or database rights.

A database may have clear commercial value and can require large investments of time and money to maintain, with its value quantified by its comprehensiveness and completeness. The greater the number of separate sections a database has, and the easier it is to recover data from it, the more useful and therefore more valuable it will be.

However, there is a distinct difference between rights in a database itself and rights to the data within one. Rights to data uploaded to a database may belong, for instance, to the contributors and there may also be data protection issues such as GDPR to consider.  

We can advise you on the best way to protect your database rights, including the impact of the European Database Directive, and potential ways to commercialise those rights, as well as on GDPR and data protection issues.

If you have developed technology, you may now want to transfer ownership of it or license it. Technology transfer is key to generating income and can be vital for an organisation’s economic development.  Or if you are selling your technology business, you will also need to agree terms on transferring the technology rights.

Our specialist team have in-depth experience in assisting universities, research institutions and parties who have developed technology and wish to transfer ownership. We can also advise on drafting and negotiating technology licensing agreements.

Software As A Service (SAAS) is the growing model for people to access software, where for monthly subscription they get up-to-date software version and support via the Cloud, rather than buying the software disk for one version. This is also an attractive model for software developers, with potential ongoing income and better security from illegal copying and such like.

Software developers are also increasingly selling their product via online marketplaces, such as Amazon marketplace or Azure. This is Cloud hosted, with the marketplace dealing with all the billing and so on. In this environment, the agreement you make as a developer with the online marketplace over licensing your software is key.

Our experienced team can support you through drafting and negotiation technology licensing agreements that work for your business needs and development plans.

How can Thorntons help?

With technology sector and intellectual property specialists, we can help your business protect and make more of technology rights and assets, whether you are developing software, selling online, accessing IT services or selling your technology business.

We can also give clear guidance on regulation compliance, including handling customer data, as well as on negotiating and drawing up key licensing and software rights agreements. In addition, we can advise clients on the legal and compliance aspects of ISO 27001 information security management certification process.

If you are a technology start-up or university spin-out<link to spin-outs page>, we can help you with IP advice and support at this crucial early stage, getting the company in best shape for future IP commercialisation.  

Call the Thorntons Business Law team on 03330 430350 to find out more about our intellectual property and technology services for businesses, or complete our enquiry form and we will contact you.