When you invest time and money in the development of an application and use the help of an outsourced team, you should always take protective efforts to ensure you own the code.
But when there is a need to transfer an app’s code from one development team to another, how to do this safely?
In the mobile apps world, the most important thing that creates a framework for an app’s code ownership is copyright law. It is vital to have ownership of the copyright in the app code if you want to control the ability to copy, distribute, sell, or modify it, and of course, the ability to profit from the code.
When working with an outsourced development team it is important to understand that according to copyright law, the owner of the code is not the author who types out the sequence of words and symbols that constitutes a line of software code, but a person or business that employs the author.
If you have a clear understanding that any code that a developer or a team of developers create within the scope of their employment is owned by the employer you probably realize the importance of having a legal agreement between you and the development team.
There is one major difference between a professional team who develops top grade products and a team who simply makes apps. Experience shows that professional companies not only tend to adopt best practices in the industry but also start any business relations with a proper contract, as it protects the company itself and the client it works with.
From a company side, a well-drafted contract is a way to be sure that the client who uses their services will not refuse to pay. While a contract from a client side is a way to escape expensive legal headaches and protect intellectual property rights.
Let's go through the two major contracts that should be signed between the new development team and the client in order to protect the code and the idea from being stolen or disclosed.
The main purpose of a non-compete agreement is to keep a development team and other professionals who are working on your project from sharing the code with a third party, for example, a rival company. Thing is that a company or a team you work with may work on the similar project as yours. This basically creates a situation when your code can be used by a third party. So if you want to avoid a lot of problems concerned with intellectual property rights violation a non-compete agreement is a must!
NDA is a very commonly used contract in the tech business. Experience shows that this contract is rarely gets triggered, but if something goes wrong be sure the NDA will be very useful, of course, if it is not the only document you have. Thing is that NDA provides protection against the named party for using or disclosing their confidential information. So if the NDA is the only contract between your and your contractor than anyone can approach a developer or firm to build the exact same app.
Also, be very attentive! Your NDA must be carefully prepared. It is a very common situation when a client provides an NDA that is one-sided. Remember that NDA should be mutual in order to protect both parties from disclosing confidential information.
The absence of a written contract creates a situation when there are no clear boundaries for the client’s and the developer’s rights. As a result, this may lead to IP rights violation, especially when you deal with code transfer between different teams.
Despite the fact that the amount of the mobile apps is growing every month the industry itself is a relatively new business. As a result, legal regulation is not the first thing developers and clients think about.
Moreover, a lot of the legal stuff has been treated fairly loosely by developers, employers, and even the app stores themselves. But despite this fact, the documents described above are extremely important and will be gaining in importance as mobile apps become an even larger industry.