TECHNOLOGY, OUTSOURCING, AND COMMERCIAL TRANSACTIONS
NEWS FOR LAWYERS AND SOURCING PROFESSIONALS

The Financial Stability Board (FSB) published on December 9, 2019, its report on financial institutions’ increasing reliance on third parties to provide cloud computing services (the Report). Established by the G-20 in April 2009 to promote international financial stability, the FSB is an international body that assesses vulnerabilities in the global financial system and coordinates the work of national financial authorities and international standard-setting organizations to develop and promote appropriate regulatory and supervisory policies.

The Report outlines the benefits from the increasing use of third-party cloud computing services, focusing primarily on cost savings, improved competition and cybersecurity, and increased operational resilience. It notes, though, the new challenges that the current scale of use may pose, such as the significant and systemic effects that an operational failure of critical third-party infrastructure could have. This is due to the highly concentrated cloud computing sector and the increasingly complex network of third-party suppliers and dependencies.

Please join us in our Philadelphia office for our annual Technology, Outsourcing & Commercial Contracts Networking Roundtable. The roundtable will feature an in-depth discussion of hot topics relating to the increased connectivity of our businesses, including privacy concerns, data rights, cloud solutions, and contracting for the use of connected devices. Stay connected with us at the networking reception following the discussions.

We hope you’ll join us in Philadelphia on Thursday, April 16, 2020, from 3:30–5:30 pm ET.

Register now >>

In a long-term outsourcing, software as a service (SaaS), or other services agreement, the customer will typically push for a termination right relating to the service provider’s breach, and perhaps for an insolvency event or change in control of the service provider. However, the customer should also consider including the right to terminate for its convenience (without cause), which could cover any of the following situations:

  • The customer is not satisfied with the service provider’s performance under the contract even though the provider is meeting its service level and other performance requirements under the contract.
  • Many alleged breaches by the service provider are initially “black and white” in the view of the customer, but they turn “gray” when the service provider pushes back and alleges nonperformance, nonresponsiveness, lack of cooperation, and the like on the part of the customer. Adding the customer’s right to termination for convenience can avoid the potential dispute over whether the customer has the right to terminate on other grounds.

Are you about to sign a service agreement with a third-party service provider under which it will access and use technology of your company? Have you checked your applicable third-party contracts to see if you need any consents? The contracts under which your company uses technology every day, from the mundane to the critical, may contain hidden restrictions on the third party’s access and use for your benefit under the services contract.

There is an endless number of arrangements a customer could have with its third-party service providers, but this Contract Corner will discuss the case where the customer authorizes a service provider to access and use licensed software either while remaining at the customer site, or by moving it to the service provider’s site. More specifically, it explores just some of the issues and language in the customer’s license agreements with those third-party software providers to be checked during pre-signing due diligence.

The UK government has indicated that the UK’s approach to public procurement will fundamentally change post-Brexit. While it remains to be seen whether such a fundamental change will be possible in practice, the UK government’s pronouncements clearly suggest that change is on the way, which will most likely provide a less prescriptive framework for UK contracting authorities to follow.

These changes will almost certainly have a significant impact on how outsourcing and technology providers interact with the UK government, both in the context of their current agreements and also in respect of future contract bids and awards.

Current Regime

The laws that govern the UK’s public procurement regime are largely based on EU rules found in several EU directives and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Broadly speaking, these rules aim to open up public procurement to EU-wide competition. Public bodies must, for example, award public contracts without discrimination on grounds of nationality and advertise their contracts EU-wide via the Official Journal of the European Union ( OJEU).

The US–China trade deal signed on January 15 aims to strengthen intellectual property protection for US intellectual property holders.

The deal increases the scope of actors liable for trade secret misappropriation to include all natural persons, groups of persons, and legal persons. The deal also enumerates additional acts constituting trade secret misappropriation, such as electronic intrusions and a breach or inducement of a breach of duty not to disclose information that is secret or intended to be kept secret. To further strengthen the protection of trade secrets, the deal provides that “China shall prohibit the unauthorized disclosure of undisclosed information, trade secrets, or confidential business information by government personnel or third party experts or advisors in any criminal, civil, administrative, or regulatory proceedings conducted at either the central or sub-central levels of government in which such information is submitted.”

The terms “reseller” and “distributor” are often used interchangeably to describe entities that purchase goods or services from a manufacturer and then distribute or resell such goods or services to retailers and consumers. However, there are some key differences between a distributor and a reseller and important issues to consider in agreements with resellers and distributors.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, cybersecurity journalist Catherine Stupp drew attention to the massive surge in internet-connected devices expected to be in use by the end of 2020. This increase in the Internet of Things, which refers to internet-connected devices ranging from televisions and automobiles to fitness tools and medical devices, presents several challenges to the world of cybersecurity.

The article not only urges manufacturers of internet-connected devices to apply cybersecurity techniques to increase security, but also asks large companies buying devices to incentivize good security practices by only purchasing devices with proper safeguards. The California Consumer Privacy Act, which took effect January 1, 2020, takes a step in the right direction by no longer allowing manufacturers to sell internet-connected devices with weak default passwords. Stay tuned for future developments as cybersecurity races to keep pace with the growth of connected devices.

The 2019 ISG Momentum Market Trends & Insights Geography Report was recently released and contains valuable insights on how the outsourcing industry is growing and transforming around the world. The report, which was published on December 27, 2019, is authored by Paul Reynolds, partner and chief research officer at ISG.

One of the key highlights of the report focuses on annual contract value, or “ACV.” The report finds that the “number of outsourcing contracts signed continues to rise each year, but the cumulative annual contract value (ACV) of those deals continues to fall.” The report attributes the decline in ACV, which fell for the sixth consecutive year in 2018, to the following three factors: (1) falling prices from commoditized service lines, (2) aggressive pricing policies from new market entrants, and

You signed a long-term deal. It would be embarrassing if, in a few years after signing, the pricing is significantly higher or your service levels are significantly lower than market. Benchmarking provisions are intended to provide a mechanism for ensuring that your pricing and/or service levels are within market (taking into consideration the unique factors applicable to your deal). Set out below are some of the key components of a meaningful benchmarking provision.