If you're developing a mobile device app I'm sure you've been reading a lot, having conversations with prospective partners, and seeking other collaborators.
Use the list below to check legal needs are covered.
It's advice I've provided for developers. It's just as relevant for clients commissioning development of mobile apps.
Do business planning, recognising that even if a business plan is in bullet points it needs to describe the plan and how to achieve it. A pitch document is for pitching, it does not replace planning or a business plan. Put down the marketing megaphone, do planning instead and be honest in your plan. They'll then help inform your lawyer about the important issues to resolve and help draft contracts and other legal documents which are customised not generic. Strategic planning is a core activity in our firm. If you are unfamiliar with planning call for a conversation and guidance.
Maintain project management recognising two things. First, problems in business law are more likely to arise from poor or no document making. Like poorly written contracts, erratic Internet Messaging, SMS and emails are common sources of misunderstandings and disputes. Second, when a project management screw up (eg missed dates or quality issues) lands on a lawyer's desk it changes its name. It's now called a "legal problem". The formality required for its treatment increases, hence costs can rise. The solution for project management is to use a system. Whether records are made and kept in a print diary, on a laptop or tablet, or in the cloud (eg www.basecamphq.com, googledocs, DropBox), any of these are fine if they help maintain a habit of record producing, keeping and sharing.
Don't invest big time without a financial forecast. This spreadsheet will set out assumptions about revenue and expense line items, ideally at least two years ahead and segmented into monthly figures. It makes item 1 more useful. It can provide the maths needed to make contract terminations easier. We can provide an uncustomised Excel template or two to get you started or a referral to accountants if needed.
Use intellectual property assignment deeds to ensure the appropriate entity is the owner or licensee. The intellectual property usually assigned for apps is copyright, eg transferring from a logo designer to the client. To "assign" is to sell, "assignment" is a legal term which means "sale". "Deed" is a term describing the format of a formal type of contract. In the context of a mobile app that might include the app's information architecture design, programming code, logo, and related website content. For this we first conduct an intellectual property audit of projects. This identifies who owns what and on what basis. We then customise an intellectual property assignment deed of usual two to three pages. It's short and can be absolutely critical.
Don't use generic NDAs. It is remarkable that something as apparently "simple" as a non-disclosure agreement (ie confidentiality agreement) can be so poorly written, so often, even by lawyers. Get a set of customised NDAs that suit the circumstances of your venture. Something rarely provided in "cheap NDA" online packages is practical advice on how to lace your oral and written communication with claims to confidentiality in your ideas and materials. For this we provide a Confidential Information Guide.
Protect the brand, ideally with a trade mark registration and additionally with domain names in relevant spaces, social media site presence to at least reserve the name even if it is not used, company or business name - all supported by proper brand design
Establish relationships designed to achieve the venture's objectives. This might be a shareholders agreement between the concept producer, a programmer and a marketer. It might be more if licensing of intellectual property is required. It will always involve proper terms of service with customers and suppliers. In each case consider the implications of disagreements on items 2 to 7.
If you have questions, email me for a costed proposal or better still first call (02) 9269 0229 for an obligation-free conversation.
Further reading on mobile device apps
Further reading for business start-ups and business modelling