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Master Service Agreement

Negotiating a Master Service Agreement in Tech Deals

A master service agreement (MSA) is a contract between two or more parties in which the parties agree to the terms and conditions which will govern all current and future transactions and responsibilities between the service provider and the client. When it comes to a master service agreement in tech deals, knowing the terms of the agreement is essential for negotiation.

An MSA is a written agreement between two or more parties that specifies the terms and conditions that will apply to all present and future tasks and obligations. MSAs are beneficial because they expedite the ratification of future agreements while enabling the parties to plan for the future. This is so because MSAs offer a structure for contracts that serves as the basis for all subsequent actions.

The goal of a master service agreement is to carve out as many details as possible in nuts and bolts, which will save the organisations’ time and efforts in doing the same work. MSAs create a framework that establishes the foundation for all future actions. The tech industry uses MSAs most frequently; these agreements are appropriate for long-term or forward contracts, ongoing business relationships, government contracts and union negotiations.

Purpose of Master Service Agreement

MSA can be used when two parties need to avoid negotiating rates each time a new work order is created or when there is a long-term agreement. Instead of having to stop and slow down their development to negotiate the new terms, the companies may quickly move forward and finish the job. The parties will benefit by saving time and money in this way.

Without an MSA, customers and the business can still resolve problems, but there are serious concerns that the deal could fall through. Companies can concentrate on their specific contractual difficulties, such as the time frame and the price, for when the contract actually occurs by having an MSA before having a specific contract.

Application of Master Service Agreement

These agreements are frequently used in both government and commercial activities. They are frequently observed in the consumer sector as well. Your telephone company’s master service agreement is an illustration of one. You sign into an ongoing contract where monthly service fees are levied and the terms of the company’s maintenance duties are specified.

Components of Master Service Agreement Concerning Tech Deals

Some of the components seen to be crucial in creating, assessing, and negotiating MSAs include the ones listed below:

1. Payment

In this clause, the client and the service provider agree upon the payment deadline date, and if it exceeds, then the interest is to be charged accordingly. The customer can also impose conditions on payment, for instance, payment to be done upon receiving deliverables.

2. Intellectual Property Ownership

It is vital to distinguish between consumer data and data kept by the service provider. Clear definitions of copyrights, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets are also required, as well as licensing rights that can allow for the transfer of intellectual technology from one customer to another.

The parties to the contract decide the ownership and regulation of patents and other IPs. The customer will get all the IPs in some instances; in others, the service provider provides perpetual rights while keeping his or her IP and patents.

3. Allocation of Risk

  • Representations and Warranties:  If a party makes an impression on the other party regarding a fact that the future turns out to be incorrect, then the guilty party (indemnifier) is supposed to indemnify the indemnified party.
  • Indemnification: This clause helps the indemnified (one who gets safeguarded from all the losses in the suit) to claim all the expenses he has incurred because of the other party to the contract.
  • Insurance: Customers will always want the service provider to have a standard amount of insurance. So that customers can have faith and can get assured of any unforeseen losses, it also increases the credibility of the service provider.

4. Acceptance

The master service agreement must contain a process for customer acceptance and their review of it.

  • Deadlines and Delivery: The master service agreement should always have a delivery and deadline clause for those deliverables that are critical or urgent.

5. Intellectual Property

  • Confidential Information: Since both parties can provide confidential information, that is to be done mutually. So, if just one of the parties is providing confidential information, then it is known as unilateral confidentiality. Confidentiality provisions should define the appropriate degree of care to keep the information secret.
  • Non-Solicit of Employees: This clause limits the customer’s capacity to hire away employees from the service provider itself so that the customer can save money and maintain confidentiality. To prevent this, service providers consider incorporating this clause in their master service agreement, which can restrict employees’ solicitation during normal business.
  • Open Source: The customer must be aware of what open-source technologies are being used. If he wants to build his sole technology, then they must require representation from the service providers.
  • Marketing Rights: Several customers want to keep the relationship with their service providers secret to gain a competitive business advantage.

6. Boilerplate

  • Subcontractors: The service providers are allowed to subcontract the original contract, but if the information being provided by the customer is delicate, then it may be prohibited by the customer, and the service provider then has to use its employees for that particular task. 
  • Independent Contractor: It refers to a person or an entity that delivers its goods or services not regularly, unlike employees, under a contract.
  • Assignment: When the service providers do not finish off work allotted to them on time, the customer may hire a new provider for the same contract, known as assignment.
  • Dispute Resolution: The MSA must include guidelines for settling disputes when arising. It can add several guidelines such as the location of the settlement of disputes, escalation of dispute resolution if any, arbitration process- as it is quicker and cheaper, jury waiver and attorney fees.
  • Act of God: The parties to the contract can expressly agree that no remedies will be available if there is a breach of contract caused by circumstances or factors beyond the control of parties to the contract, like natural disasters.

7. Termination

The master service agreement can be terminated in two cases; the first is termination for a cause, and the second is termination without cause.

  • Termination For a Cause: This generally happens when there is a contract breach by either party or by both.
  • Termination Without Cause: This clause allows the parties to terminate the agreement upon communicating prior written notice subject to the indemnification clause if any related to this.


The master service agreement is an important document governing the rights of the parties entering into a tech deal. After an MSA is established, as transactions are negotiated or new services are added, the companies frequently draft contracts or statements of work to outline the specific service areas that the MSA covers.

If the clauses mentioned above are incorporated, they will act as a powerful weapon protecting the rights of the parties while also being bound by the agreement to fulfil their obligations Therefore, it must be drafted considering all factors and with utmost due diligence.

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