Hackathon Terms

Toronto Technology Lawyer

I was recently asked to prepare Terms and Conditions for a Hackathon. For those who don’t know, a Hackathon is basically a competition/event where the participants are asked to develop a piece of software under certain conditions (often within a one or two day period) that meets the theme of the competition.

Sometimes the Hackathon is sponsored with the intent that the entry will be owned or licensed by the sponsor.

When preparing Hackathon terms, you will want to make sure that you address the following:

  • What are the eligibility requirements of participants?
  • Where will the Hackathon take place?
  • What is the theme of the Hackathon? What are the hackers supposed to create?
  • Sufficient representations and warranties ensuring that each entry is an original work and does not infringe the intellectual property of a third party
  • Will the Hackathon organizer or its sponsors own the resulting software or will the participant continue to own and have the ability to exploit the created software?
  • If the participant continues to own the software, will they have to enter into a license agreement giving rights to the Hackathon organizer or its sponsors?
  • How is the contest judged? How is a winner selected?
  • Is the winning entrant dependent on any factors (e.g. signing a declaration and release?)
  • What materials and/or resources will be provided to the entrants at the location? Is internet available? Laptops? Any other hardware?
  • Can entrants bring pre-existing code?

It’s important that each Hackathon entrant is somehow bound by the rules. Organizers should have each entrant “accept the terms” upon signing up for the Hackathon.