Safeguarding your software intellectual rights

  Escrow Services  

South Africa Escrow Services

South Africa Escrow Services (SAES) is an independent South African company established in 1999 and focused exclusively on the provision of software escrow services. SAES embraces the knowledge, expertise and structure to provide all users, whether they are software developers, software users or system integrators, with a complete range of software escrow services that ensures the protection and ‘peace of mind’ for all involved parties.

The use of software escrow services as just one piece of the ‘governance/compliance grudge-cycle’ activities that organisations must address in today’s world. It is only a matter of time before the use of escrow services becomes a mandatory issue on the executive’s checklist.

What is an ‘escrow’?

Escrow is a Latin word meaning money, property, or a written bond, kept in the custody of a third party until a specified condition has been fulfilled. It is essentially a trust agreement, where the source code together with other information (deposit materials) is placed in trust with an ‘Escrow Agent’ who acts as a neutral party in the transaction.

What is a “Software Escrow”?

A Software Escrow provides for software source code and other materials to be placed in the custody or possession of a trusted third party and the deposit thereof into a secure and protected environment for the delivery to another party upon the fulfilment of certain specified conditions. Source code is the software’s programming code represented in a particular programming language that humans can write and understand. Examples of programming languages include BASIC, C++, COBOL, Java, Pascal and Visual Basic.

When software is purchased, the purchaser generally receives only the object code of a program or application, together with a license to use it. When source code is compiled it is converted to object code, which is no longer readable by humans. Therefore, it is important to have a copy of the source code in escrow and not the object code, although, it is often good practise to store copies of both.

Software escrow is all about safeguarding software intellectual rights. Currently it is the ICT companies and the financial institutions that are utilising escrow services, as it is mainly, but not exclusively, these companies that undertake bespoke software development either directly or through the use of contractors. Thus, there is a need for the larger corporates to protect themselves from the possibility of those smaller companies closing their doors, failing to deliver the required modifications etc; and the former then not having access to the relevant source code, object code and the relevant other components associated with the code, such as documentation, that had been produced for them by the latter.

Contact information:

Telephone: +27 12 654 0300
Fax: +27 86 611 8046
Address: PO Box 77794 Eldoraigne 0171
Web site: