• Regulating Software Usage Rights in Detail
  • September 17, 2014 | Author: Michael Rainer
  • Law Firm: GRP Rainer LLP - Hamburg Office
  • Computers have become indispensable in private households and even more so in companies. When using software, licensing agreements, in particular, must be observed.

    GRP Rainer Lawyers and Tax Advisors in Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and London - www.grprainer.com/en conclude: Anyone who regularly works with a computer also uses appropriate software. This applies both to private use and the commercial sector. Several programmes are already pre-installed; others can be downloaded, purchased or developed specifically for the needs of a business. In order to be able to use the software legally, corresponding usage rights need to be agreed to. This frequently happens without any great effort by clicking on a confirmation button.

    However, particularly in the case of companies that require special software, there is considerably more variation in this regard. First of all, one must distinguish between non-exclusive and exclusive licences. While a non-exclusive licence grants the licensee a right of use, the licensor - generally the business which develops the software - can also grant the same rights to other users and continue to market the software.

    An exclusive licence, on the other hand, grants the customer an exclusive right of use. In this case, the licensor is normally not allowed to issue further licences. For the business that has acquired an exclusive licence, the software can provide a competitive advantage vis-à-vis the other market participants or more effectively structure workflows. It is therefore enormously important for both sides to precisely define the usage rights so that there are no subsequent misunderstandings or legal disputes. Points such as the scope of the usage rights, duration of exclusive use, issuing of sub-licences to third parties and, of course, the licensing fees need to be clearly regulated in the licensing agreement. In order for the drafting of the agreement to be as detailed and clear as possible, a lawyer versed in software law ought to be consulted. He will also know which other fields of law need to be taken into account accordingly. Copyrights, trademark rights or patent rights, for example, need to be taken into consideration. Should legal disputes nevertheless emerge at a later stage, the lawyer will assume the role of representing your interests and enforce claims and rights against third parties.