The market for software is evolving rapidly. More users, more devices, more developers and more app stores mean fierce competition.
Advances in cloud computing, open protocols, web services and browser features mean more integration and collaboration between providers. While the specifics depend on the platform and the nature of the app, these changes mean a wide variety of legal issues arise in the course of developing and marketing software. Some of the crucial issues you should be aware of are:
Apps comprise a bundle of intellectual property rights, one of the most important of which is copyright. Copyright protects not only the source code and object code lying at the heart of your software, but also the layout of the interface, as well as graphic, audio and video content. It is crucial to both ensure you own the end product, and avoid infringing the rights of others.
Platform and API requirements
Apps for platforms like Android, Facebook, or Apple’s iOS need to comply with their terms and conditions. This is particularly important where acceptance to sales channels such as the App Store is tightly regulated. There will be more terms to consider if your app makes use of 3rd party APIs offered by Google, Yahoo, Twitter or similar. Failing to do so can have significant consequences, including the loss of access to the platform or API.
The reuse of existing software libraries and frameworks enables rapid development of rich applications. Whether these are proprietary or open source, failure to abide by the terms of the relevant licences may have serious repercussions.
Documentation and privacy
Compliance with data protection laws, and the regulations on the marketing and distribution of your apps is essential if you want to avoid to avoid fines, negative press and obstacles to the uptake of your apps. The key is to be informed, and take steps to manage your risks early on. You also need to put in place effective terms to govern how people use your apps, and to limit your liability. These measures all ensure you are in a good position to cope with fast adoption of your software.
The market for apps for mobile devices has experienced huge growth recently. So developing a strong brand and reputation is crucial to set yourself apart from the competition. Choosing the name can be a pitfall for the unwary. Find out more about protecting your brand here.
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