A Practical Guide to Software License Agreements: Maintenance and Support

Software license agreements typically include service offerings (software maintenance and technical support) essential to the customer’s effective use of the licensed software. Customers should understand the nature and extent of the software vendor’s service offerings and determine whether those services, together with other risk management practices, will reasonably satisfy the customer’s requirements.


Software maintenance typically includes software patches and patches (to fix hidden defects in licensed software) and software updates or incremental software releases (to make minor improvements to licensed software). In some cases, software maintenance also includes major upgrades or new releases of licensed software.

Technical support generally includes remote technical advice (by telephone or online) regarding the use of the Licensed Software and assistance in resolving problems with the Licensed Software, including the provision of temporary workarounds and solutions permanent (e.g. patches and patches) for software defects. Technical support may include providing assistance to end users of the Licensed Software (referred to as “first level” support) or may be limited to assistance to Customer’s internal help desk personnel (referred to as “first level” support). second level”).


Under certain circumstances, a software vendor may make promises about the level of service it will provide if there are problems with the licensed software (for example, how quickly the vendor will respond to a reported problem or provide a temporary solution to the problem) and may offer limited financial remedies (for example, credits for future charges) if the software vendor does not provide the promised level of service. The remedies specified are often the customer’s only remedies if the provider fails to meet promised service levels.


A software vendor’s obligations to provide software maintenance and support are generally limited by various disclaimers and qualifications. For example, vendors generally limit their maintenance and support obligations to relatively recent versions of licensed software and exclude problems caused by modification of the software, incompatible or defective technology infrastructure, or use of the software in violation of the license agreement or contrary to the applicable documentation. . Some software vendors also limit their support obligations to issues that can be reproduced within the vendor’s technical environment.


Software maintenance and support services may be optional at the customer’s option or required for the duration of the software license. Software vendors typically commit to providing software maintenance and support for a limited time only. This can be problematic for customers who intend to use licensed software for an extended period of time and require maintenance and support throughout that period.


Maintenance and support services are especially important for software that is expensive, difficult to replace quickly, or critical to the customer’s important business operations. In these circumstances, a customer should carefully evaluate whether the vendor’s service offerings, as well as other risk management practices, will reasonably satisfy the customer’s requirements throughout the expected life of the software.