Building a mobile app is a challenging process. In creating and launching your app, you will interact with many different parties, including the app developer, app users, third party service providers and app stores. Having legal agreements in place to manage your interactions with different parties, outline expectations and protect you against risk is necessary to protect your app.
When building a mobile app, you want to ensure that it is of a high-quality and reflects your specifications. You need a well-drafted development agreement to define expectations both during and after the app development process.
The Scope of Work and Deliverables
Your development agreement should include:
- the scope of work for completion;
- a description of services;
- specifications both parties agree to; and
- the expected delivery times for each phase of development.
As things may change for a number of reasons, the agreement should also outline how changes may occur in the services and specification. It should include whose consent is necessary, what extra fees are payable and how it may affect delivery times.
Acceptance Testing and Bugs
Producing a high-quality product requires testing of the app throughout the development process.
The development agreement should detail:
- when testing of the app will occur during the development process;
- who is responsible for the testing;
- how to communicate any issues or acceptance of the completion of work; and
- in what circumstances the developer is responsible for fixing bugs within the app after the scope of work is complete.
You should ensure that you own the intellectual property (IP) in your app. The developer will seek to retain ownership of the IP and they may require you to obtain a licence to use it. The development agreement should state exactly what IP is being assigned, licensed and retained. The IP clause is one of the most important clauses because, without rights to the IP, you might not own your app.
You may need to disclose certain information about your app with the developer. If you require the developer to keep such information confidential, you should include this in your development agreement.
Many mobile apps collect personal information from users such as:
- contact details;
- date of birth; and
- preferences and opinions.
Terms and Conditions
Terms and conditions are a significant and necessary agreement for your mobile app. They govern the relationship between your business and all the users of your app. You should require users to accept terms and conditions when they download or register to use your app.
Well-drafted terms and conditions should contain key clauses regarding:
- how the app will function;
- how the app will be used;
- account registration;
- payment terms;
- what users can and cannot do while using your app;
- protection of IP;
- dispute resolution processes;
- limitation of liability and disclaimers; and
- the indemnifying of your business from any claims arising from misuse of your app.
Marketplace Terms and Conditions
If your app is a marketplace that facilitates a relationship or transaction between two or more other parties, such as Uber or Airtasker, you will need to specifically draft marketplace terms and conditions reflecting that relationship.
Your marketplace terms and conditions need to cover additional clauses to those set out above. For example, if your app connects businesses and individual users, your marketplace terms and conditions will need to set out:
- how a business will use your app;
- how an individual user will use your app;
- the way in which the relationship between a business and a user functions;
- your role is on the platform;
- your liability and responsibility for representations made between the two parties; and
- your involvement in a dispute between a business and user.
Third-Party Service Providers
Your mobile app is likely to interact with third-party service providers. For example, where your app is made available on the Apple store and Android store, or where your app uses Google Maps or Facebook log-ins.
If this is the case, you need to comply with the terms and conditions of those third-party service providers and ensure that your terms and conditions complement their requirements.
When building a mobile app, it is important to protect your business. You can ensure the protection of your app throughout the development process and beyond by having the following legal documents in place:
- development agreement;
- terms and conditions.
You also need to comply with any terms and conditions that third-party providers you interact with may have.
If you need assistance with drafting or reviewing any legal documents when building a mobile app, get in touch with LegalVision’s IT lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.
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