When a business has a great idea for an iPhone application, it is understandable that the development of the application itself takes priority. However, it is important to bear in mind that an application gives rise to legal obligations, not only between the business and the retailer (e.g. Apple) but also between the business and the end user. This is where the business must consider the end user licence agreement that will be required, not only as it is required as part of the development and approval process with the retailer, but more importantly because of the legal obligations that might arise.
Whilst the development of applications can be through a number of retailers, this article will refer to the process involving the development and approval of an iPhone application through Apple. In this regard, a business will need to consider its legal relationship with Apple, as well as the risks arising with an end user.
Consider Issues with the iPhone Application
When dealing with the potential risks of an iPhone application, it is important to firstly consider the potential issues that might arise with someone using the application. Some applications (e.g. Angry Birds) might be fairly innocuous and low risk, whereas others (e.g. location services) might have serious consequences.
By way of example, consider the development of an iPhone application that relies upon third party location services in order to track business assets and capture important reference data for field work. An obvious risk would be the possibility of inaccurate information being provided by the application. It might cause the end user a loss of time or money if their location was displayed incorrectly or if assets being tracked were recorded incorrectly.
Standard End User Licence Agreements
Fortunately, Apple Inc. has a standard End User License Agreement (EULA) that you can adopt as part of the iPhone development approval process. As license agreements go, the current version is generally very good and covers most of the issues. It is fairly comprehensive in terms of excluding or limiting liabilities and any warranties (promises) about the application. However, because it is a generally worded document, it does not cater for specific iPhone applications that have their own requirements. Consequently, you need to ensure that your end user licence agreement covers the important issues.
Businesses and developers must be aware of the potential legal risk posed by the development and distribution of an iPhone application. Consideration should be given not only to the legal relationship between the business and the retailer, but also to the risks between the business and the end user. Also, developers should be mindful of using third party software and the implications. Issues such as copyright and breaches of intellectual property need to be addressed.
Properly drafted terms and conditions tailored to the particular circumstances of each iPhone application will help manage the risks posed by such applications.
Joe Kafrouni, Legal Practitioner Director, Kafrouni Lawyers
The information provided by Kafrouni Lawyers is intended to provide general information and is not legal advice or a substitute for it. Software developers should always consult their own legal advisors to discuss their particular circumstances. Kafrouni Lawyers makes no warranties or representations regarding the information and exclude any liability which may arise as a result of the use of this information. This information is the copyright of Kafrouni Lawyers.
Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.