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What Is a SaaS Agreement?
A SaaS agreement, or a software as a service agreement, lays out terms and conditions of a software delivery model. In this type of model, software and data will be centrally hosted and users will access the software and data over the internet.
A SaaS agreement may include heavy service elements, or it may just give end users access to products that can alternatively be licensed in a traditional way. No additional software or hardware is needed in the SaaS model, as data is uploaded into a system and then saved in the cloud.
Is a SaaS Agreement Different From a Licensing Agreement?
A SaaS agreement differs from a licensing agreement.
Under a licensing agreement, a company will usually deliver the actual software for use, typically for a single or monthly fee. Software and relevant hardware must be physically installed.
In a SaaS agreement, on the other hand, customers get access to software and other technology through the cloud, but no physical goods are exchanged. A SaaS agreement will give end users access to the products involved online. As a result, the structure of a SaaS agreement focuses on permitting the use of a product instead of allowing product use as a service.
Important Clauses Found in a SaaS Agreement
An individual SaaS agreement will have unique needs and therefore different clauses. The specific clauses in an agreement will depend on the following relevant information:
However, all cloud service agreements will share certain terms and agreements. This includes:
Access right and users:
Most SaaS agreements will have a metric to limit access to either a certain number of users or a certain amount of data. Your agreement should:
- Detail that metric
- Define what a user is
- Establish penalties for abuse
Customer service and support:
Provisions should establish:
- How you will provide support for your services
- Response time
- Any additional guarantees in terms of expected service
- Data ownership: This vital component of a cloud service agreement establishes who gets the rights to data that is entered into a platform or service.
This section is particularly important in consumer markets. The section should detail:
- Encryption responsibilities
- How often data will be backed up
- Protections offered
- Security of entered data
What happens to data in the event of:
- A security breach
- Termination of service use
- Where data is stored.
- License scope: You should define and limit the rights that you transfer to subscribers.
- Limitation of liability: You should also make any damages available clear, and you can cap contractual liability.
- Master agreement language: Most agreements will include language that makes this document the master document for all services you offer so you do not have to negotiate or sign a completely new contract every time a customer wants to renegotiate or change the services provided.
Detail what end users should expect from your service. This should include:
- Relevant results
- What your service does not promise
Pricing and when your company has the right to charge detailed costs should be established in the agreement. As SaaS agreements typically use a subscription model, you will usually get payment in one of the following ways:
- Rights to a physical copy: Most SaaS agreements state that customers do not have a right to a physical copy of the software used.
- SLA: A cloud service agreement typically also includes a Service Level Agreement, or SLA. The SLA sets a minimum performance standard for a SaaS. Performance standards are generally related to service availability. In this part of the agreement, you can set your service's uptime percentage for services that are critical to business operations.
- Subscription plan and model: Provisions should specify exactly what the subscription plan includes, as well as how your services will be delivered.
- Term, Termination, and Renewal: These three clauses should establish the agreement's term and the processes that should be followed to terminate or renew the service. Generally, a SaaS agreement will have evergreen renewal. This means the agreement will be renewed automatically for another term, unless a customer actively terminates their agreement before an established date.
See SaaS Agreement Pricing by State
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Types of Agreements SaaS Companies Need
Company-level agreements for SaaS companies can include:
- Assignment of intellectual property, or IP transfer agreements
- Confidentiality/non-disclosure agreements
- Employment agreements
- Shareholders agreements
Customer-facing agreements can include:
- Master services agreements
- Purchase and sales order agreements
- Service level agreements
Third-party agreements can include:
- Advisor agreements
- Affiliate or partner agreements
- Contractor agreements
Public-facing policies can include:
- Privacy policies
- Security policies
- Trademark policies
Image via Unsplash by arifriyanto
You might hear this type of agreement referred to in the following ways:
- Terms of service
- Terms and conditions
Practically speaking, they're all the same thing.
Clauses to include in this agreement are:
- Business contact information
- Copyright and intellectual property rights
- How customers can end the service contract, including penalties should they end a contract early
- How your SaaS handles content generated by users
- Laws that govern the contract
- Licensing information
- Limitations of liability and disclaimers of warranties
- Payment term specifics
- Restrictions and/or limitations of use
Privacy Policies for a SaaS
- California: The California Online Privacy Protection Act ( CCPA ).
- Canada: The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act ( PIPEDA ).
- European Union: General Data Protection Regulation ( GDPR ).
- What personal data your service collects and uses
- How your service collects and uses personal data
- How your service stores personal data
- Whether your service shares personal data with third parties
Information about cookies:
- If cookies are used
- Which cookies are used
- Why cookies are used
How users can:
- Limit the data that is collected and used
- Withdraw consent to have their data collected and used
- Request to have data deleted
SaaS agreements are integral parts of any software as a service company. Make sure you work with lawyers who know how these contracts work when crafting yours.
Meet some of our SaaS Agreement Lawyers
January 18, 2023
Owner and operator of Meek Law Firm, PC. Meek Law Firm provides comprehensive business law representation, precise and informed representation for real estate transactions in the commercial and residential markets of North and South Carolina and efficient succession and estate planning for business owners and individuals.
January 26, 2023
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Graduated UF Law 1977. 40 years experience in Family Law/Divorce and Prenuptial Agreements. Rated "AV Preeminent" By Martindale Hubble, the oldest lawyer rating firm in the USA. Top 5% of attorneys in Florida as reviewed by Judges and other Lawyers (not client reviews). Personal prompt service and easy to contact--available 24/7. Good negotiator and very personable. My clients are my priority.
January 22, 2023
~ Charles Kramer - Technology, Contracts and Intellectual Property Attorney ~ www.linkedin.com/in/charleskramer I am a New York corporate and technology attorney. My experience includes: - representing high-tech companies (including software, military, manufacturing and computer game companies) in connection with negotiating and drafting (1) toolkit, enterprise, Saas, PaaS and other complex agreements and licenses with companies around the world; (2) joint-venture, sales, publishing and distribution agreements; and (3) general corporate agreements. - 5 years as General Counsel of a software company (and many more years representing it as outside counsel); - 3 years as an associate in the Wall Street law firm of Lord, Day & Lord (then the oldest law firm in New York City practicing under the same name); and - speaking at conferences on legal issues including at the annual Game Developers Conference and Miller Freeman's Digital Video Conference. I am comfortable working in areas where the technology -- and the related law -- are new. My recent work includes working as a contract attorney (extended on a month-by-month basis) as American counsel for a publicly traded Swiss industrial corporation with responsibility for drafting form contracts for its planned "industrial internet of things" digital services. Accordingly I am comfortable working in a corporate environment using modern collaboration tools. Charles Kramer (917) 512-2721 (voice, voicemail, text)
January 23, 2023
Joe provides premium legal services to both individuals and businesses throughout the Commonwealth. Experience litigating civil and criminal matters, as well as drafting/negotiation transactional issues involving contracts, real estate, business formation, estate planning and more. Prior to entering private law practice, Joe worked for two decades in financial industry including regulatory and compliance for both national and regional banks and investment firms.
January 26, 2023
Driven attorney with a knack for alternative dispute resolution, real estate, corporate law, immigration, and basic estate planning, with superb people skills and high emotional intelligence, and for working smart and efficiently, as well as time and financial management skills to deliver excellent legal work and solutions to legal issues. Seasoned with 20+ years of law firm and legal experience (real estate/corporate).
January 26, 2023
Brittany is an experienced attorney specializing in transactional and complex contract matters including but not limited to SaaS development and product implementation, technology/data agreements, licensing, and compliance. She has over 7 years of experience providing strategic legal advice to individuals and business clients of all sizes, from start-ups to large corporations. Brittany has a strong understanding of the legal issues related to technology and software and is well-versed in drafting and negotiating contracts ranging from software licenses to data sharing agreements. She is a highly-skilled negotiator and is adept at finding creative solutions to challenging legal issues.