In an ever digitalised world, there is a mobile application for almost every service – from mobile banking to booking a table at your favourite restaurant. There are endless opportunities for businesses and consumers, but what are the legal issues that need to be looked at? Kathryn Heath, senior associate in the intellectual property and IT team, explains five things you should consider before developing and launching a new mobile App:

  1. Intellectual property – Ensure you own the IP in the App and that this is covered off in contracts with third parties you work with. It is a common misconception that if you pay a third-party developer to create a product then you will automatically own the intellectual property in the end product, but this is not the case – what is in your contract with the developer is key. You should also take steps to protect the intellectual property in the final product – some intellectual property rights like copyright arise automatically, but others, such as registered designs and trademarks to protect your brand, require registration and operate on a first to file system, so do not wait until it is too late.
  2. Privacy by Design – Under data protection legislation, businesses have a legal obligation to design their services using the principles of ‘privacy by design’. Privacy by design means considering data protection and privacy issues upfront in everything you do from the initial design stages until launch of the final product. You need to ensure your privacy policy is fit for purpose and easily accessible on a small screen – simply using the privacy policy that is on your website is unlikely to be suitable or GDPR compliant.
  3. Legislation – Ensure the App’s content complies with all other relevant legislation, such as applicable advertising laws and consumer regulations.
  4. App Stores – Ensure you follow and abide by the requirements of the App stores where your App is available for download. Different App stores may have different requirements, so the devil is in the detail.
  5. Terms of Use – These need to be clear and accessible and in compliance with all relevant legislation.

To find out more about how Stephens Scown has recently helped a local App developer with their legal compliance, please follow this link.

Kathryn Heath is a senior associate in the Intellectual Property and IT team. Kathryn has significant experience providing legal support to the technology industry. The team regularly works with businesses involved in mobile and emerging technologies. For more information, please call 01872 265100, email IPIT@stephens-scown.co.uk.