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Understanding SaaS Agreements: A Complete Guide for Businesses

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Last revision: June 20, 2023
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Software as a Service ("SaaS") plays a vital role in today's digital landscape. It has dramatically transformed business across the globe and user interaction with digital products. SaaS provides unparalleled convenience, scalability, and cost efficiency. Despite its benefits, it is important to understand legal complexities and how to navigate through them, particularly in protecting your business from legal disputes by adopting a well-drafted SaaS Agreement.

In this blog, we will discuss SaaS agreements, including what they are, why they are important, and what you need to know when negotiating and signing one. A SaaS Agreement outlines the relationship between the service provider and the client, governing their rights, obligations, and dispute resolution methodologies.

Saas model

Before discussing the SaaS Agreement, it is important to understand the SaaS model. SaaS is a web-based model in which software vendors host and maintain the servers, databases, and the application. By doing so, it eliminates the need for clients to install and run applications on their own computers or data storage systems. This cuts the costs for your clients, and you will benefit from reduced maintenance, operation, and support costs.

SaaS applications are typically subscription-based, which means that users only pay for the software that they use without any purchase or installation.

Examples of SaaS applications include Google Workspace, Microsoft Office 365, Salesforce, Dropbox, and Adobe Creative Cloud. These applications are used for a wide range of tasks including email, customer relationship management (CRM), document creation and management and more.

With the expanded use of the internet and smartphones, many citizens have started using SaaS products on a daily basis.

The Importance of SaaS Agreement

The SaaS Agreement is a legal contract outlining the terms and conditions of the SaaS provided. It is crucial and acts as a backbone of a SaaS-based relationship. Without a well-drafted SaaS Agreement, your business may encounter legal ambiguities and misunderstandings that could lead to disputes, disruption of services, financial losses, or even affect the existence of the business. It clearly sends a message to your user regarding what to expect and not expect, do's and don'ts while using the SaaS.

When you have a well-drafted SaaS Agreement, on your website, or app, it will help you increase the trust and confidence of your users. Nowadays, most users check the applicable terms or rules before using any product, especially when they are using it for their business.

SaaS Agreements cover wider legal areas that include areas like data protection and privacy laws, intellectual property rights, contract laws, and regulatory compliance requirements. Following are some of the laws that are applicable to a SaaS business in India:

  • In India, the Information Technology Act, of 2000 forms the basis of legal regulation for SaaS businesses, addressing various aspects like data protection, privacy, electronic contracts, and cybercrime. Sometimes, you may fall under the definition of "intermediaries" (receiving, storing or transmitting electronic records on behalf of others) under the Information Technology Act, 2000, if so, you need to comply with applicable rules including any data take-down request from the concerned authorities.
  • The Indian Contract Act, 1872, will govern the SaaS Agreement as a contract in general including the validity of the contract by looking into consideration, the eligibility of the parties etc. For example, a minor (below the age of 18 years) cannot enter into a valid contract under the Indian Contract Act, 1872.
  • Depending on the nature of services offered and the parties involved and the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 also applies. For example, if your customer has subscribed to your service for personal use, then such customers will be protected as consumers under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
  • Currently, India does not have a dedicated data protection law, but a Personal Data Protection Bill is under consideration and once enacted will significantly impact the SaaS business model. Currently, the Information Technology (Reasonable security practices and procedures and sensitive personal data or information) Rules, 2011, under the Information Technology Act, 2000, govern data privacy in India. If you are collecting personal data, especially sensitive personal data of your users or subscribers, you must take written consent from such users or subscribers for collecting, processing, and storing their data. It is better to publish a detailed privacy policy on your platform to explain to your user about the data collection, purpose, processing, duration of storage, deletion policy, etc.

If you are providing the service to international customers, you need to ensure that SaaS complies with the laws and regulations in such jurisdictions including GDPR for European Users, and California Privacy right for Californian users.

SaaS Agreement Vs. Website Terms and Conditions

Even though both the SaaS Agreement and Website Terms and Conditions look similar, both serve different purposes.

SaaS agreements are explicitly created for the provision of software services over the Internet, covering aspects like service nature and scope, data security, payment terms, and dispute resolution.

On the other hand, Website Terms and Conditions govern the use of a website, covering user behaviour, content posting, privacy, disclaimers, and limitations of liability. This serves as a legal agreement between the website operator and the site visitors. Website terms and conditions apply to anyone who visits the website, regardless of whether they purchase a product or service.

Best Practices for Risk Mitigation

Risk mitigation in the context SaaS Agreement involves proactive steps to be taken by both the service provider and the clients including:

  • Due Diligence: Both the service provider and client shall conduct research on each other before entering into an agreement, especially for a long-term agreement. Customers should ensure the viability of the SaaS, uptime-downtime, backup options, etc. On the other service provider shall ensure the creditworthiness, and pending cases (especially related fraud, data breach, etc.) of the clients.
  • Robust Data Security and Privacy: In this time of increased cyber threats, it is vital for implementing industry-standard data security measures to insist trust and confidence in your users. This includes data encryption, two-factor authentication, and regular audits. Since internal data breaches are an increasing trend, it is better to have a robust Employee Privacy Policy to educate and warn your employees about data protection and actions taken in case of a data breach with their direct involvement.
  • Transparency in Pricing: hidden costs can lead to disputes and dissatisfaction among your clients. It is important to clearly specify the costs, including any additional costs like installation costs, training costs, data migration costs, etc. to your client at the time of entering into the SaaS Agreement.
  • Regular communications: regular and open communication to identify and resolve issues relating to SaaS or any related service will help both parties to have a robust relationship. Your user must have a clear communication channel to communicate their queries, suggestions, and complaints.


Understanding and navigating SaaS Agreements seems complex. However, with a careful approach, these Agreements will help you in the long run-in smooth functioning of the business, safeguarding intellectual property rights, maintaining data security, and supporting evolving needs of your business in this fast-phased digital world.

In comparison to traditional software agreements, SaaS Agreements emphasize data privacy, service availability and user responsibilities. With the evolving IT laws, especially data privacy laws, it is important to have an updated and compliant SaaS Agreement.

Templates and examples to download in Word and PDF formats

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