Tech Startups: 3 Reasons Why a New Tech Business Needs an Attorney by 30Seconds Mom
Popular television shows like "Silicon Valley" highlight the way ordinary tech developers can be launched into the stratosphere of fame and fortune nearly overnight. All it takes is one app or one computer program to turn a group of friends and colleagues into millionaires ... but therein lies the problem.
Marcus S. Harris, software litigation expert, explains, “In my line of work, I have seen this issue countless times. People running these tech startups are very tight on funds and so they skip out on hiring an attorney to help draw up contracts. But here’s the thing: Early legal advice is not expensive. But it WILL be expensive when you inevitably run into legal issues or intellectual property disputes and then have to hire a team of attorneys to help you save your stake in the company.”
The Chicago-based global technology attorney offers these three reasons why tech startups should always hire an attorney before putting ink to pen on a contract:
- Software isn’t tangible. “Contracts need to be more than just comprehensive, they need to be painstakingly exhaustive. It’s not enough to simply put ‘Version 4.0’ in a contract. What does Version 4.0 mean exactly? You have to detail each component and functionality you are licensing, or your contract won’t even be worth the paper it’s written on,” says Harris.
- Your tech-speak might not translate to legalese. “As mentioned above, your contract needs to be sweeping in its scope when it comes to describing the product, however, it can be difficult for someone to make their tech-speak translate to the written word ... especially when it comes to drawing up a contract. You need your contract to be able to stand up in a court of law, and that means it has to comprehensible and fairly understood by all parties, but that also means that it needs to be written in such a way as to avoid any misinterpretations or ambiguous provisions. It’s a complicated line to walk for any business person drawing up a contract, but when it comes to drawing up a tech contract, it becomes even more fraught with issues.”
- Software is not stagnant. “When drawing up a tech contract for something under the umbrella of products in the Internet of Things, you’re not drawing up a contract simply for the present functionality of the product. You need to consider all future possibilities for your software and the ways in which you want to protect your interests. When you’re in the middle of a startup phase, it can be hard to see past these immediate concerns and look towards 10, 20 years down the line, but that’s exactly where you need to be looking if you want to draw up a contract that will serve you rather than harm you. A software technology attorney can help you to do this, and it will be a worthwhile expense ... one that could save you millions in the future.”
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