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The changing face of technology in the COVID-19 pandemic

View profile for Tracey Dickens
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The changing face of technology in the COVID-19 pandemic

In these turbulent times, companies are embracing technology to ensure that they are able to operate. However, many companies are rushing to introduce new technology and infrastructure without conducting due diligence or ensuring essential cyber security is put in place. This stores up potential problems that may become disputes in the future.

Companies are assessing their technology requirements during these unprecedented times and are adapting their company strategy. Many companies have looked at their immediate requirements already. However, many are now considering the next requirements and what their company will need after a sense of normality is returned.

Companies are conducting reviews of their technological needs. This might include an evaluation of what can be moved online, moved to the cloud, digitised, or accessed remotely. Some technology will already be in place but may need to be adapted to different use, for example, remote access.

Mitigating the risks of using of existing technology

Some companies may have existing technology that can be used to cope with the effects of COVID-19. However, many companies are having to rely on this technology more. It is essential that companies have a review of the terms and conditions. There might be restrictions to numbers of users, locations it can be used in, access requirements and security.

You might be using an existing infrastructure in a different or increased way due to COVID-19. If this is not permitted under the licence, you might be breaching the terms of your agreement and could face litigation or penalties. Software and data providers are, at present, focused on their company needs and the increased demand for their solutions. There will come a time when they will focus on licence deployment, particularly if their sales revenue is hit in any ensuing economic downturn.

Where over-deployment is identified, the provider can require the customer to pay back fees. Such fees could be higher than the contractually negotiated licence fees. Back fees will be claimed throughout the period of overuse, potentially going back six years. Additionally, the provider might have the right to withdraw the technology from your use.

Risks with purchasing new technology

In the current crisis, many companies have procured technology on an urgent timeline. Many companies have been unable to carry out the necessary due diligence or ensure that their contracts contain the right protections, due to the market conditions and the demand of new technology being at a record high.

Companies should consider checking that they have the correct rights to use the products in their terms and conditions. This will ensure that at a later date they are not stung with litigation or the removal of the essential products. Additionally, companies might find it necessary to ask providers for proof of ownership of source code, or for a source code to be held in escrow and non-revocable licences to be given.  

If you are considering purchasing new technology and would like to talk about what you want to achieve and protect, please contact me on 01206 217380 or tracey.dickens@birkettlong.co.uk. I can also help if you are worried that your existing technology use might be in breach of your licence.

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