Mobile and Tablet MarketingSearch Marketing

Widget Legalities, Support and Sales Tax

WidgetCurious questions for all of our widget builders and companies who have released widgets:

  1. What liability is there, if any, to providing a widget for your application? Is the widget engine liable? Is the widget liable? Both?
  2. Do you support widgets as if they were a part of your application? Or are they ‘use at your own risk?’
  3. If you’re a SaaS company where no software is downloaded or installed, how do you manage sales taxes on Widgets? Aren’t widgets, in essence, a piece of software that you are distributing? What are the tax ramifications of that?

I ask because we’ve been advised that any documentation, media, or software that we distribute may have an impact on our company’s liability, support, and taxes. Is there a workaround or clause that excludes items like widgets?

This is especially important as Internet applications become more robust. My understanding of Apollo is that it may run as an application outside of a browser, but utilizing browser technology. What are the implications of that?

Please forward to any industry experts as you can. Thanks!

Douglas Karr

Douglas Karr is the founder of the Martech Zone and a recognized expert on digital transformation. Douglas has helped start several successful MarTech startups, has assisted in the due diligence of over $5 bil in Martech acquisitions and investments, and continues to launch his own platforms and services. He's a co-founder of Highbridge, a digital transformation consulting firm. Douglas is also a published author of a Dummie's guide and a business leadership book.

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  1. Doug,

    You raise valid questions.

    A widget is an extension of a company’s brand outside of the company and is somewhat of an ‘ambassador’ for the company on web pages and desktops.
    As such, it is important to understand the implications of using widgets as a branding and marketing tool.

    I believe a widget carries the same liability for a company as its RSS feed. The user interface used to present the content is less important than the actual content. So make sure your content is appropriate.
    Desktop widgets especially should be treated carefully as they are much more powerful and get access to a user’s computer directly. So yes, treat them as software you distribute.

    At MuseStorm we work hard to QA our widgets and treat them like any other enterprise software. I sure hope other widget vendors do the same.

  2. Thanks for the personal reply, Ori!

    Your reply seems to support that it’s both content and software so I think we’re going to have to approach it this way. Do you know if your clients pay sales tax for widgets that are distributed – even if they are free to download?


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