Understanding End-User License Agreements
All of us have no doubt downloaded software from the Internet. In doing so, we have to check some boxes to agree to terms and conditions. Probably most people never read these, but they are designed to protect the developer of the software from copyright infringement and from others sharing the application or program with their friends—or even making a copy and selling it themselves.
The technical name for what buyers of software must acknowledge and confirm is called an End-User License Agreement, or EULA. Other terms used are licensing agreement, software license agreement, browse wrap agreement, shrink-wrap agreement, and licensed application end-user agreement.
If you are a software developer in or around Kansas City, Missouri, who wants strong protection for their product, contact Ream Law Firm, L.L.C. The firm’s patent attorney has helped countless individuals and businesses establish the documents and legal protections needed to help ward off infringement and misuse. He can review your EULA or help you create an ironclad one.
Ream Law Firm, L.L.C. proudly serves clients throughout the Kansas City Metro Area including Johnson County, Kansas, and Jackson County, Missouri. Set up a consultation today.
What Is Included in an End-User Licensing Agreement?
A EULA is essentially a license to use a product. As noted above, a EULA protects the owner/licensor of the software in helping to ward off infringement and copying and selling or sharing of the software. It also forbids the copying of the underlying code to develop copycat or modified versions of the application. Some EULAs even prevent users from making a back-up copy, though this is controversial because federal law holds that making a back-up copy is perfectly legal.
Why Are EULAs Important?
If a software product does not include a EULA, then the product becomes open source, meaning that anybody can copy it, rework it, rename it and sell it, give it away, and more. Worse, the developer thereafter must offer all future versions of the product for free as well.
Components of EULAs
Unless someone finds or buys a boilerplate version, most EULAs will be somewhat different, though many components will be the same. Basic components include but are not limited to:
Disclaimer of Warranties: The product is being offered “as is,” and the licensee is not responsible for problems that may develop during use.
Governing Laws: Applicable state and federal regulations concerning conflicts between licensor and licensee apply.
Infringement Acknowledge: This states that the product is copyrighted and cannot be infringed upon.
Licensor Information: This includes contact information for the developer.
Licensee Information: This includes contact information for the purchaser of the software.
Use Restrictions: This defines any limitations on use of the software.
Limitations of Liability: This is a statement about whether the licensor is responsible for any damages resulting from use of the product.
Maintenance and Support: This states how to obtain support and how it will be offered: by phone, email, online, or other.
Termination: This states what violations of the agreement can lead to termination of the agreement.
Pros and Cons of EULLAs
For the licensor, a EULA is a vehicle to protect against copyright infringement, but it should be noted that a EULA is not necessarily a legal document. It is a licensing agreement between the developer or vendor and the customer who purchases the product. As noted earlier, without a EULA, the software becomes open source and the owner loses the right to upgrade the product and offer it for sale.
A EULA doesn’t really protect the consumer. It’s fairly one-sided. The licensor not only owns the product, but also has a right to all data stored on the end user’s version.
Understand Your Expectations with a EULA
If you are developing, or have developed, a program that you need to protect with a EULA in or around Kansas City, Missouri—or you need to check the wording on one before you start licensing the product—contact Ream Law Firm, L.L.C. The firm’s patent attorney has for 25-plus years helped protect people’s intellectual property rights.