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Address the Different Legal Relationships When Developing Apps

As business in the Digital Age evolves, it is inevitable that companies will increasingly use mobile apps to reach out to customers and provide services. All companies should understand the different legal relationships and various protections needed in developing, implementing and using apps. In development, start with a non-disclosure agreement to be sure the programmer does not take your core spark. Consider copyright ownership between the hiring company and the programmer; an app development agreement is similar to a software development agreement. Determine if you might use open-source software. Clear trademarks and branding that may be adopted for the new app. Protect patentable aspects of the app that may be novel and nonobvious. For implementation, understand that apps must reside on a distribution platform, requiring agreements with mobile device purveyors, such as Apple for its iPhone and Google for Android. Each platform has its own agreements, guidelines, content rules and transaction fees that govern the relationship. These guidelines might prescribe what may need to be included the app’s terms of use, what types of liability coverage may be needed, and other items that may impact how the app interacts with the user. Because apps are designed for consumer usage, they should include website-like end user license agreements and privacy policies. Be certain also to comply with industry-based regulations whether the app collects, uses and transmits personally identifiable information, includes medical information, or is focused on children younger than 13 years old.


Ned T. Himmelrich
410-576-4171 • nhimmelrich@gfrlaw.com