If you have a great idea for an iPhone application, the development of the application understandably takes priority.  But be mindful that an application creates legal obligations, not only between you and the retailer (e.g. Apple), but also between you and the end user.  So you need an effective end user licence agreement to address the legal obligations arising out of the application.

Consider Issues with your iPhone Application

In addressing the risks of an iPhone application, it is important to consider the potential issues that might arise.  Some applications (e.g. games) will be fairly low risk, while others (e.g. location services) might have serious consequences.

Consider an application incorporating third party location services to track business assets and capturing reference data for field work.   If the location is incorrectly displayed or if assets being tracked are recorded incorrectly, the end user might suffer a loss of time or money.  Also, if the application used a third party’s information (e.g. Google Maps or Open Street Maps) then, depending on what and the extent to which it is being used, a provision in the licence agreement might be required to deal with the use of such third party applications.

Standard End User Licence Agreements

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 covers most of the standard issues.  But because it’s a generally worded document, it does not cater for specific iPhone applications that have their own requirements.  Consequently, you must ensure that your end user licence agreement addresses the potential risks.

If your application incorporates third party location services (e.g. Google Maps), your application’s terms of use may need to ensure that users also agree to be bound by Google’s terms of use, perhaps by incorporating pop-up windows in the application with a link attached.  You may also need to ensure that copyright and trademark notices remain on the third party’s information displayed in the application.

In this regard, you may also need to determine whether you have to keep up-to-date with the third party’s terms of use, which may change over time.  For example, an application that uses third party maps may have a limit to the number of daily downloads, which may reduce over time forcing you to subscribe to a premium service allowing greater downloads.  If you do not keep up-to-date with the terms of your use of the third party application, you could find your application in breach of copyright or a third party’s terms of use.

Conclusion

Businesses must be aware of the potential risks posed by the development and distribution of an iPhone application.  Consider not only the legal relationship between you and the retailer, but also between you and the end user.  Properly drafted licence agreements tailored to the particular circumstances of your iPhone application will help manage the risks arising out of your application.

Joe Kafrouni, Legal Practitioner Director, Kafrouni Lawyers

Disclaimer

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.

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