Skip to Content
10 minutes read

The Legal Requirements for App Development: How to Stay Compliant

By Guest Author
Legal requirements for app development
By Guest Author
10 minutes read

Developing an app requires a detail-oriented process to achieve a well-functioning product.

Why?

Users look forward to experiencing a bug-free and smooth flow of the app.

More than that, apps must be more than error-free. They need to stay compliant to continue their existence.

Legal compliance is vital in different ways, including:

  • Protecting intellectual property and business reputation: Your app must refrain from infringing on other intellectual properties to safeguard its reputation. Failure to follow IP laws can lead to expensive lawsuits, fines, or the need to redesign or change the app’s name.
  • Ensuring market access and distribution: App store approvals need compliance to ensure the approval and availability of the app. Also, it ensures that the app is available worldwide without legal issues.
  • Accessibility and user experience: Legal requirements like the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) guarantee that apps are usable by people with disabilities. This means that more people can use your app.

This blog will discuss the basics of app development and app store approval guidelines. You’ll also learn more about the web accessibility guidelines. Lastly, you’ll also learn about the proper maintenance for continuous compliance.

Understanding the Basics of App Development

An idea is the first step in making any app. Customers may have a specific need or problem that this idea should solve.

Researching the market is essential before starting to develop. You need to know the competition, your target audience, and any gaps in the market.

Here is a summary of the process of app development:

Idea Generation – Market Research – Design and Prototyping – Platform Choice – Development – Testing – Deployment – Maintenance

Idea Generation: There’s an idea behind every app. This concept should solve a particular issue or need that people might have.

Market Research: Before you start developing, you need to do a lot of research on the market to find out about the competition, your target audience, and any gaps in the market.

Design and Prototyping: This includes making mockups or wireframes of the app’s interface and testing the app’s user experience with a prototype.

Platform Choice: Pick either iOS or Android as the platform for the app, or make it both (cross-platform). The languages and tools that are used will change because of this choice.

Development: The app’s actual coding. Here, your idea is turned into a working app.

Testing: After it’s been built, the app goes through testing to ensure it works well and has no bugs.

Deployment: Following testing and fixing any problems, the app is made available on stores like the App Store or Google Play.

Maintenance: After the launch, maintenance and updates must be done regularly. This includes fixing bugs, updating the app to meet the needs of the platform, and adding new features based on what users say.

Developing an app is more than just making a digital product. It’s also about using technology to improve things, meet needs, and add value. 

Now that more people are using mobile devices, it is clear that app development will have a massive impact on the future of business and education.

Patent App Functionalities

When discussing patenting app features, knowing the difference between patentable inventions and non-patentable content is essential. Usually, you can’t patent vague ideas, simple algorithms, or simple changes to data. 

On the other hand, a new, non-obvious technological process or method that gets a specific result might be patentable.

When should you patent app functionalities?

  • If the feature is new, it’s not available in any other form or application.
  • It doesn’t matter if the feature is new; it also can’t be evident to someone knowledgeable about app development.
  • The functionality should be helpful in a particular situation. It can’t just be theoretical or abstract.

Why should you patent app functionalities?

  • A patent usually protects the patented function from being used, copied, or sold without permission for 20 years from the filing date.
  • Developers can make more money by licensing the feature to other companies or developers once they have a patent.
  • A patent can give a product or service an edge over its competitors because other companies can’t use the same patented features.

But it’s important to remember that getting a patent can take a long time, cost a lot of money, and be hard to understand. The rules for patenting software and apps differ in some countries or regions.

Trademark Searches

Trademark searching is one of the most important things you can do to build a solid and unique brand identity. It protects you from legal problems. Also, it ensures your brand’s app and logo can grow and thrive without violating anyone else’s rights. 

It is crucial to do trademark searches for the following reasons:

  • Avoid infringement
  • Secure brand identity
  • Prevent legal disputes
  • Save time and money
  • Enhance brand value
  • Facilitate global expansion

It can also help protect your brand’s app and logo through:

  • Comprehensive research
  • Risk assessment
  • Guided application
  • Strategic branding
  • Future protection

Understanding Web Accessibility Guidelines

Websites first created web accessibility guidelines. Now, they are becoming more valuable for app development. It is the right thing to do for app accessibility. 

But first, let us understand what web content accessibility guidelines are:

Even though it’s not a law, WCAG is a standard for digital accessibility that most people agree on. Following the WCAG guidelines can help businesses meet the legal requirements in different places.

It is helpful for an inclusive user experience, legal implications, platform guidelines, ethical responsibility, enhanced usability, potential for market differentiation, future-proofing and compatibility, and economic considerations. 

Legal Implications of Non-Compliance with Accessibility Standards

Lawsuits and Litigation

Litigation is one of the most direct legal results of not following accessibility rules. People or groups can sue a business if they say it treats them unfairly because it is not available.

Financial Penalties

If you don’t follow the rules, you could face hefty fines from regulatory bodies, and court settlements can be expensive. 

Businesses may also have to pay the court fees that come with defending themselves against accessibility claims. 

Lawyers and people with criminology degrees know how to help businesses avoid these fines by following accessibility rules.

Regulatory Sanctions

Besides fines, regulatory bodies may also use other punishments. For instance, companies that don’t follow accessibility standards could lose government contracts or have them put on hold.

This is very important since, according to a WebAIM study, about 98.1% of home pages had detectable WCAG 2 failures.

Ultimately, businesses that don’t follow accessibility standards risk being sued and hurt their customers’ experiences. 

App Store and Platform-Specific Guidelines

There are rules that every creator must follow when making an app for either iOS or Android.

Apple App Store Requirements and Review Guidelines

Developers must follow many rules and requirements to get their apps added to and changed in the Apple App Store. You can read the rules on Apple’s developer page, but here are a few of the most important ones:

Safety

  • These features must be available in apps that show user-generated content: filtering, reporting, and blocking.
  • Apps labeled “Kids” must be made especially for kids and meet extra safety standards.
  • Apps must not be harmful or risky. 

Performance

  • Apps need to work with the most recent version of iOS and use public APIs.
  • TestFlight can be used for beta testing, but it shouldn’t be used for real-world testing.
  • Developers shouldn’t make multiple apps with the same experience or content.

Business

  • Digital goods and services must use Apple’s system to buy things inside apps. Other payment systems can be used for services and goods.
  • Ads shown in the app must be appropriate for the app’s age, rating, and audience.
  • Developers must follow all privacy laws and be transparent about handling user data.

Legal

  • Apps need a privacy policy and users’ permission before accessing personal information.
  • Apps that let you gamble for real money must have the proper licenses and follow the rules in your area.
  • It is not okay for apps to violate the intellectual property rights of others.

Google Play Store Policies and Requirements

The Google Play Store, like Apple’s App Store, has its own rules and policies that app makers must follow to get their apps added to the store and keep them up to date.

Here is a list of some of the main categories. For more details, developers should always visit the official Google Play Developer Policy Center:

Restricted Content

  • Sexually explicit material is not allowed.
  • Kid-harming or exploiting apps are strictly prohibited.
  • Using graphic or pointless violence is not allowed.
  • Apps that speak out against groups because of their race, religion, disability, or anything else are not allowed.

Impersonation and Intellectual Property

  • Apps should not trick users by pretending to be other apps or entities.
  • You cannot make apps that copy other people’s work or violate their intellectual property rights.

Privacy and Security

  • Applications must be responsible for user data and have a clear privacy policy.
  • Apps that link to or contain malware, spyware, viruses, or other harmful content are prohibited.
  • Apps’ web views cannot show ads or links to harmful content.

Updates and Changes

  • Users are encouraged to update their apps often, but if the app’s functions change significantly, it may need to be reviewed again.
  • When developers make necessary changes to an app’s features or permissions, they should inform users promptly.

Updates, Maintenance, and Continuous Compliance

The number of people downloading apps today has been increasing.

A recent Statista study predicts that by 2027, the number of downloads is expected to grow greatly across all categories. This shows the overall trend for the whole period of the forecast, from 2019 to 2027. 

Source: www.statista.com 

The number of downloads is always increasing in all areas. With 176.1 million downloads in 2027, the games segment has the most value in this area.

For mobile apps (and websites), it is essential to review and update legal documents like Terms of Service (ToS) and Privacy Policies regularly. These documents clarify how the app works with its users, rights, and duties.

There are various reasons why it is crucial to update apps:

Changing Legal Landscape

Adhering to these changes will help your app stay legal and prevent problems.

Evolution of the App

Some apps may change how they handle user data or interact with users as they get updates and new features.

Data Handling and Privacy

Worries about users’ privacy and how their data is handled are growing. Updating the Privacy Policy regularly can help build trust and openness.

Stay Legally Compliant and Experience Seamless App Development

App creation is one of today’s business world’s most complex and detailed jobs. App developers must know the different legal requirements. This ensures that their app follows the rules of the App Store or Google Play Store.

Non-compliance can affect market success, brand image damage, and cause legal problems. As a task and a duty, app developers today need to set priorities and check their compliance status often to avoid possible negative consequences.

Girl With Glasses

Want to Build an App?

Request a free app consultation with one of our experts

Contact Us