Legal Aspects of Developing A Mobile App
The app penetration in the US is currently estimated at 75% and likely to reach 85% by December 2015. Traditionally, app usage goes in direct proportion with the number of smartphone owners. With the rising number of users, the increasing app penetration rate comes as no surprise.
However, developing and distributing an app isn’t easy for any developer or app entrepreneur. A developer or the organization willing to develop an app for its site needs to know the legal aspects of it.
Mobile App Development – The Legal Aspect
Here is a look at some of the legal nuances involved in any app development project:
1. NDA (Non-disclosure Agreement) signing with your app vendor: You must sign an NDA with your app vendor. This will safeguard your business secrets and data from going public as your app vendor will have legal binding for non-disclosure. Otherwise, the vendor will be at liberty for divulging your business secrets and data to your competition as a matter of their sheer business strategy.
2. IP ownership & copyrights: Your app development will pass through a series of smart processes; namely functional descriptions, wire frames and documentation. You must pay attention to every minute detail about the app development project delineating the entire project step by step. It will ensure no heartbreak in the end and you will have the scope to sue the vendor in the event of its inability to fulfill your requirement. Also, clearly define the IP ownership of your app here since your app vendor writes the IP address for you.
3. Contract for app development: Your app development contract must define in clear terms on the scope of the work by your app vendor as well as you. How many resources you will make available to your app vendor and what they (the app vendor) bring to your table and so on. It should also contain the secrecy clause in sync with others like post sales service and the tenure of it etc. The idea here is to take maximum protection for the purpose.
4. Intellectual Property Rights: You must own the intellectual right of the app since it will have access to your business data and secrets. Moreover, your intellectual rights on the app will bar the unauthorized access to factors like source code, icons, documentation, icon name, programming snippets and images.
5. Setting out the legal terms: You (the client) and the app vendor must join hands for deciding on a couple of things that will impact the future development and usage of the app post the delivery of it at your end. Hence, your legal terms must include the following.
a. Usage terms: Here, you and the app vendor should set out the dos and don’ts as the working philosophy of the app. It should also state the legal implications in the event of any breach there.
b. Privacy: At this stage you must delineate the nature and the scope of the data collected from the users through your app such as the date of birth and the location and their possible uses for avoiding future legal implications.
c. Terms and conditions: You must voluntarily disclose the financial charges associated with the app usage. This is a must.
d. Disclaimer: Here you must secure immunity from the law of land in the event of unavoidable circumstances like malfunctioning of the app etc.
Different countries have somewhat different rules governing the app development, distribution and usage. Brush up your knowledge when you’re trying to launch an app in a specific country as they need to be legally compliant. You will also need to address all of Google or Apple’s specific requirements as well, so that your app doesn’t face any suspension or removal from the app store.
Once you’ve launched your app, it may be too late to modify it according to the rules and regulations, a reason you’d probably be better off by knowing about the rules from before. A good idea is to hire a legal representative before who’s aware of the country’s rules. Also hire an app developer who knows the rules of Google and Apple in and out. This will ensure that you stay on track and do not fall into legal obligations later on.
I am Pratik Kanada, founder & CEO of 360 Degree Technosoft, which makes app ideas into reality by providing unique design and development services across iOS and Android platforms. I generally write blogs on mobile technology, app development and app marketing.