The Technology Sector

Key Facts

It's no surprise given the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), cryptocurrency, cybersecurity and FinTech that lots of law firms are introducing a specialist 'technology' sector as part of their legal service offering... but... what does it actually mean? 

Law firms that have a 'technology' sector act on behalf of technology clients. Technology clients can range from start up companies right through to well known brands such as Google and Microsoft. Essentially, it can be any business that provides some form of technology service such as life and applied sciences, robotics, graphics, chip design, content delivery, data storage (the list goes on) and businesses that rely heavily on such technology services. 

Although there is no such thing as 'technology law', there are lots of common legal issues that technology companies face on a regular basis which require specialist technology lawyers. Technology lawyers will be specialists across a range of legal disciplines such as contract law, intellectual property, privacy and data protection laws. 

Technology start ups...

Typical issues that can crop up when a technology business is just starting out include:

  • developing the technology product and/or service as soon as possible 

  • investing in research and development around that product 

  • launching the product on the market 

  • protecting the business' intellectual property

  • advising start up companies on potential collaboration and joint venture opportunities to build the brand further 

  • advising on financing business growth - that includes looking at potential investors as well as seeking funding from lenders 

  • attracting the right type of employees and dealing with any/all employment issues 

  • ongoing commercial support such as drafting and negotiating supplier and customer contracts 

Commercial IT contracts

Lawyers that specifically specialise in commercial IT contracts within the technology sector may find themselves drafting a range of the following types of contracts: 

 

  • app development - an IT lawyer will work with app developers to manage risks within a variety of contracts connected to the app such as making sure the app is structured in the right way and compliant with law in relation to things such as privacy notices and cookie information 

  • licensing - both customers and suppliers will need licences to use certain IT hardware and software so an IT lawyer will advise either side on the legal risks of the licence agreements and negotiate the terms 

  • cyber security - IT lawyers will advise on the appropriate terms for licensing software security products 

  • e-commerce - IT lawyers will advise on e-commerce arrangements including online terms and advertising compliance, consumer rights and issues relating to data protection when handling personal data to ensure the provider is GDPR compliant 

IT Outsourcing 

You'll come across lots of firms that refer to 'IT Outsourcing' specialisms. IT Outsourcing is literally when an organisation outsources its IT functions (or some of its IT functions) to another external organisation. This will often happen because it's cheaper and/or more efficient for the business. 

The typical legal issues that can arise in IT Outsourcing include: 

  • procurement - a business may advertise the opportunity to handle its IT work through a tendering process or competitive bidding process - this will allow different organisations to bid for that work and the business advertising the opportunity will review all the bids that come in and assign the work to the winner of the procurement process. 

  • cloud computing - cloud computing is essentially a data centre that is available to users over the internet - you store data on the cloud. IT lawyers may be involved in advising on cloud software, platforms and infrastructure offerings. 

  • disputes - IT lawyers will advise on disputes that arise in relation to mid or end term reviews of outsourcing agreements and changes to the agreements.