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Software Development Agreements

Who Signs Your Software Development Agreement?

By Internet Lawyer, Software Agreements, Software Lawyer

software development contractWhen you’re a software developer, even the best app development contract in the world can have major problems if the wrong people sign the agreement…or they sign the contract in the wrong capacity.

Lack of Signing Authority

If a company wants to weasel out of your software development agreement, one way to do this is to claim the person who signed the contract on the company’s behalf lacked signing authority to bind the business to the contract.

This often occurs where one of the company’s owners opposed the development project in the first place. Or there is buyer’s remorse because of circumstances that may be beyond your control. For example, there’s a negative financial event at the company and a sudden need to cut expenses and retrench.

In either scenario, rather than being honest and renegotiating the deal with you, the excuses start to fly as to why the work won’t proceed, including an alleged lack of signing authority.

Signatures In Wrong Capacity

If your software development contract doesn’t have the correct signature lines, it can become unclear exactly who is responsible.

How is this possible?

Signature lines are improperly set up so that it appears that one or both parties are signing as individuals rather than on behalf of their respective businesses. In such cases, you may not have an agreement with the company itself but just one of its employees as an individual.

Fixing Your Software Development Agreement

If you need legal help with your software development contract, it’s probably time to schedule a phone consultation with Software Lawyer Mike Young.

Software Development Agreements Clients Want To Sign

By Software Agreements, Software Lawyer
software development agreement

When you’re a software developer, you’ll want to use app development contracts that clients want to sign.

Unfortunately, many developers use agreements that chase prospects away like a fast-talking salesman in a polyester suit.

The most common mistake is to use something that looks like an amateur wrote it. And this happens when the developer “borrows” legal language from multiple agreements and patches it together. In addition to intellectual property theft, it looks like a kid with crayons scribbled it. Not professional.

And if the language is “borrowed” without fully understanding it, chances are many of the terms favor the prospect instead of the developer because that’s how they were drafted.

On the flip side, there’s the “thud factor” mistake. That’s where a software developer presents the prospect with an 80-page contract…something so heavy that it makes a “thud” sound when dropped down in front of the prospect.

These monster contracts typically are filled with “whereas,” “the party of the first part,” and other ancient language designed to induce a coma as the prospect reads each page. In other words, language that could have been used by medieval lords to transfer castles have no business being in a modern tech contract.

If you’re a developer who wants to convert prospects while also protecting yourself and your business, it’s probably time to get a custom software development agreement prepared that you can use as a template for your deals. The first step? Set up a phone consultation with Software Lawyer Mike Young.

Getting Paid For Software Development

By Software Agreements, Software Lawyer
software development agreement

When you’re developing a mobile app or other software application, you want to get paid for your work. However most developers screw up this important issue in the way they handle payment in their software development agreements with clients.

This is particularly true where there’s unequal bargaining power. For example, a solo app developer contracting to do a project for a large company may need the work to pay this month’s rent.

Yet if you don’t get paid timely, you won’t be in business for long.

And the dirty little secret is that some software developers aren’t in business…they have an expensive hobby because they rarely get paid on time or what they’re worth.

To prevent this from happening, you’ll want the payment terms in your software development to be clear and favor you as the developer.

Ideally, you’ll want to get paid as much up front as possible. This is more doable when the project is for a fixed price instead of on a time-and-materials basis.

And if you offer payment terms, those should be shorter rather than longer. After all, you’re not a bank in the business of lending money to earn interest.

So if a prospective client proposes payment NET 90 from receipt of invoice as the company’s “standard” policy, think seriously about countering with NET 30, NET 14, or even payable upon receipt.

And there should be penalties for late payments. This can include things like accrued interest and suspension of your services until payment is made.

Now one of the biggest weapons you have in your arsenal to ensure getting paid is intellectual property ownership. Because a properly crafted software development contract can specify that the client owns nothing until you’re paid in full.

Of course, one of the things you should do to ensure payment is to do perform due diligence on a prospect before agreeing to any software project. Because nonpayers leave clues.

For instance, you’ll find reviews on Google, Glass Door, and other sites that can reveal if a company has a pattern of cheating or nonpayment of customers, suppliers, workers, and others.

Note that I said “pattern.” Because a single negative review may have been posted by a crazy person or an unethical competitor. Yet a half dozen reviews complaining about the same misconduct is probably a pattern that should be a legitimate red flag.

Now if you need help with an existing software development agreement or getting a new one prepared that you can use for your client projects, it’s probably time to schedule a phone consult with Software Lawyer Mike Young.

Software Support And Maintenance Responsibilities After The App Is Released

By Software Agreements, Software Lawyer

When a software developer contracts to create an application, the client and the developer rarely remember to nail down the responsibilities post-release.

For example, is the developer supposed to provide support, maintenance, or upgrades?

And does the parties’ software agreement take these issues into account, including compensation for such services.

Too often, a client who isn’t tech savvy assumes that software development includes perpetual support and maintenance. This means that if an application breaks years after release, the client unreasonably expects the developer to fix it at no additional cost.

If you’re a developer, be sure to set the client’s expectations (in writing) on the front end so you don’t get burned later. If you’re not providing support or maintenance, be sure to plainly say so in the contract.

And if application support and/or maintenance is included, identify the scope of such responsibilities, i.e. what’s included, what’s excluded, and pricing.

If a software developer wants to provide support or maintenance, must it be included in the development agreement? No. Sometimes support/maintenance is covered in a separate contract signed by the parties.

However, for simplicity and cost-effectiveness, it typically makes sense to bundle it all together in the software development agreement…or clearly state in the agreement that maintenance and/or support aren’t included.

Note that these support and maintenance issues are beyond the common developer’s warranty that software will work 30-90 days post-release…and agreement to fix any bugs that come up during that period.

If you need help with your software development agreement, including any support or maintenance issues, it’s probably time to schedule a phone consultation with Software Lawyer Mike Young.

Software Development Agreement Disputes

By Software Agreements, Software Lawyer
software development agreement template

Whether you’re an app developer or the client who has retained one, it’s important to have your software development agreement provide practical dispute resolution that doesn’t cost a fortune.

Ideally, your app development contract will let the parties first try to informally resolve problems without getting lawyers involved.

And if you can’t agree between yourselves, your contract should have a simple way to have an independent mediator help you settle the matter quickly and with minimal expense. With developers and clients often located in different states or countries from each other, using online mediation is a common solution.

But what if mediation doesn’t work?

It’s probably still speedier and more cost-effective to have binding arbitration than to head to court in a lawsuit.

Of course, the costs involved will depend upon where arbitration is held, the law and arbitration rules applied, whether you’re using lawyers, and other factors.

Naturally, the place to handle these issues is on the front end by having it all spelled out in a professional software development agreement. The agreement can prevent many problems from arising in the first place by addressing them before the parties sign it.

If you need a software development agreement prepared or an existing one reviewed, it’s probably time to set up a phone consultation with Software Lawyer Mike Young.