Apple’s Guidelines: The Legal Side of iOS Development Part I

You may think designing, implementing, and marketing an iOS app is a fairly simple process, legally speaking. However, like any other business foray in modern society, there are a number of legal pitfalls to watch out for whether you’re working on the next great iPad game or a fancy new competitor to Foursquare for the iPhone. In this series of posts on understanding the legal requirements for iOS developers, we’re going to be taking a look at everything—from start to finish—you need to familiarize yourself with before and during development of your new iOS app. Topics will range from forming your business, to naming your app, to copyrights and trademarks, to understanding Apple’s terms and conditions, to drafting customized terms for your app. Yeah, this series could get long.

We begin at the planning stage. You’ve decided you want to build an iOS app. Laid out all of the basic features you want it to have. Maybe you’ve even tinkered with a few designs for the GUI. Now you just have to join the Apple Developer Program.

So you sign into Apple’s website, follow the links to the Developer Program. Create a username and password, and you’re presented with a couple of documents you probably just click through without reading like everyone else. These documents, in the order you’ll probably come across them, are the Registered Apple Developer Agreement and the (more importantly) iOS Developer Program License Agreement. These two documents, along with a few others, dictate the terms of the relationship you have with Apple. And you really need to read them before you even think about developing your first app. (Although, it should be said that you generally have to join the developer program before you get to read the iOS Developer Agreement.)

While going through each and every term of the two agreements would be far beyond the scope of this post, we’ll quickly point out . After all, the more you follow along with Apple’s terms, the less resistance you’ll encounter when you submit your app. Some of the key points to be aware of include terms of third party licenses you may also be required to be bound by, such as Facebook and Twitter integration. Others include notices you have to provide to your users if your app needs to take information from other applications, most notably from a user’s Contacts app.

Once you’ve read (and reread) the requirements set forth in Apple’s documentation, you’re all set to start laying the foundations for your business and developing your app—or are you. Stay tuned for Part II of this series, on how to choose the best name for your iOS app.

Photo courtesy: Thomas Leuthard

Eric Norton

Eric Norton

Business & Trademark Attorney at Norton Law Corporation
Eric Norton is a business and trademark attorney, and the founder of Norton Law Corporation, a modern law firm designed to help entrepreneurs with their legal needs. Eric also enjoys photography, gaming (tabletop and video), watches, and good design.
Eric Norton

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