With the “app economy” predicted to double by 2020 to an incredible $101 billion, and the number of new apps quickly rising, app developers (and, frankly, anyone else involved in app development from owners to investors) need to focus on critical legal issues to protect themselves and their apps.

An article published by VentureBeat touts a report from App Annie that the app economy is steadily on the rise and is poised to double to $101 billion by 2020. The report predicts growth across a multitude of app sectors, including mobile games which, in 2015, accounted for 85% of global app revenue (or approximately $34.8 billion) and is predicted to swell to $41.5 billion in 2016 and $74.6 billion by 2020.

Here are 4 absolutely critical issues app developers, investors and owners need to consider:

  1. Who owns the app? This is a complicated question because an app is often developed by a number of people (or entities) or drawn from a number of sources. It is critical that, from the beginning of the app development process, the ownership of the app is clear. This might include joint venture agreements, scrutiny of license agreements, work for hire agreements or considerations of joint ownership.
  1. Who owns the content in the app? Apps can be drawn from numerous sources. It is critical to ensure that the content of the app has been fully “cleared”. Videos, images, audio recordings and other aspects might be owned by someone else, in which case the right to use those components must be secured, or else there is a risk of being at the wrong end of an infringement claim.
  1. What data do you collect? One of the biggest buzz words in the app market is “privacy”. In this context, “privacy” concerns the collection and retention of personal (i.e., a “user’s”) information and data. There are a multitude of laws and regulations around the globe that protect the use and retention of personal information and data, including separate rules that apply to the use and retention of data related to children. It is critical to identify and understand the laws and regulations that will be applicable to the app in development. Correspondingly, you can find more info about what goes into developing a mobile app by taking a look at some of the resources on the Expedition Co. website.
  1. How will users interact with the app? If users will be posting information on the app or interacting with other users, it is critical to address those issues in several different contexts, including the ability to control the users’ content, the right to use the users’ content and potential liability if a user posts content they do not own or have the right to post.

Michael Patrick works with app developers from start-up to product release to address these and other critical issues. To contact Michael, click here.