Business Development for iPhone Apps

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by gknnth, Aug 28, 2008.

  1. gknnth macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2008
    #1
    Sorry if this is the wrong area to post to.

    I've a business idea for an iPhone app I want to sell to niche clients on the back end but where the programming will be done by some folks I'll employ. In a situation like this where the business concept, sales and marketing is managed by my company but the technical tasks are managed by the company that does the programming, how would Apple deal with our respective positions i.e. do I "own the app" because I'm employing the programming company? Or does the programming company own it because they'll register with iPhone as the developers? Or do neither of us "own it" and does it belong to Apple regardless?

    Regards,

    GK
     
  2. StoneColdSober macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2008
    #2
    As to who owns, you or the developers, it depends on how the contract the two parties agree to is worded. Get a good attorney to draft a good contract that gives you ownership and you will own it. Draft the contract yourself and who knows.

    As to the question about Apple, Apple does not own third-party apps.
     
  3. gknnth thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2008
    #3
    Business Development for iPhone Apps

    SCS,

    Thank you for this. Very helpful. I'll be looking for qualified legal advice but perhaps you can share a bit more insight?

    If the concept, sales, and marketing is managed by a Japanese company in Japan owned by a U.S. citizen but the programming is done in India by an Indian company, under what country jurisdiction do you (guess) the contract law might fall?

    If the contract gives me controlling interest in the app but I can’t communicate with Apple with regards to technical issues can I still apply to Apple for approval for my app idea? Or will Apple not care what kind of arrangement I have and simply insist that they deal with programmers for all issues regardless? Or with controlling interest can I delegate programmer > Apple communications to the programming company making Apple aware of this arrangement?

    Additionally, would you say this link describes the current app vetting process pretty well?

    http://www.macworld.com/article/134960/2008/08/appstore.html
     
  4. StoneColdSober macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2008
    #4
    Again it all depends on what the contract says. IANAL but work for them and I can tell you that contracts state all the time what jurisdiction is controlling.

    With that said, I am pretty sure the one requirement on governing jurisdiction (at least in the US) is that one of the parties has to conduct their business or be incorporated in the jurisdiction named in the contract.

    So, for example, let's say I live in New York and my business is incorporated there and you live in California and your business is incorporated there. I can draft a contract between you and me that says New York law is the governing authority. The contract cannot however say that Michigan law is the governing authority as neither of us live there and we are not conducting our business there. This is typical contract language.

    The fun part is that in the above hypothetical if there was a lawsuit between our companies, the case will actually be heard in Federal Court because our businesses are from different states. The Federal Court would apply the laws of the state named in the contract.

    Contract law is very complicated and international contract law is even more so. The issues involved in your question concern intellectual property which makes it even more complicated. So, as I said, you really need to consult an excellent attorney who is familiar with the issues of both contract law and intellectual property (BTW, intellectual property attorneys are the most expensive attorneys out there).

    As to your question about the Apple process, I have no clue. So unfortunately I can't help you out on that one (not that I have helped you much on the other questions).

    Good luck.
     
  5. robhedin macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2006
    #5
    You're describing a "work-for-hire" arrangement, and this is a standard relationship.

    You will want to be the "publisher" of the application (i.e. apply for, be accepted in, and pay the $99 fee for the developer program). This way all monies are paid by Apple directly to you. If a developer does this for you then they will receive all monies (with the tax liabilities thereof) and have to pay you. Additionally, they will have control over your application in the App Store; they can choose to pull it from the store and you will have little recourse. By publishing it yourself you will have full control over all marketing aspects.

    The bottom line is: (a) join the developer program NOW, (b) get competent legal advise about setting up a work-for-hire development contract and (c) find a developer to do the work.

    rob.
     
  6. robhedin macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2006
    #6
    Apple does not care; their contract is setup with a specific organization, all communications go through that organization. While it's possible to give them contact information for someone outside your organization, the reality is that everything is done via email and there is really very limited communications. (initial setup, notification that an app has been submitted, notification that an app has been accepted/rejected, and financial notices).

    Additionally, you're probably going to want full control over this communication anyway in case you need to change developers at some point.

    There really are no "technical issues" that Apple will talk to you about (they will provide a reason for rejection, but that can be easily passed on).

    Apple also does not approve an "App Idea"--- they only approve submitted and complete applications. This means that it is entirely possible that you will pay for and build an application only to have Apple say "thanks but no thanks" to you. The likelihood of this happening, provided all the rules are followed and that the application is (relatively) stable, is fairly low but the possibility does exist.

    Much of this is fairly specific and probably of limited value to most people. If you'd like, feel free to drop me a PM and I'll try to give you as much detail as I can about the process (not from a legal point, only the mechanics of dealing with Apple, the App Store, and third party development in general).

    rob.
     
  7. gknnth thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2008
    #7
    Business Development for iPhone Apps

    StoneColdSober you _have_ been very helpful. If you need (business/lifestyles/culture/IT etc) info about Japan drop me a PM. I've been in Tokyo 25 years. Rob thank you as well and I'll take you up on your PM offer.

    GK
     
  8. gknnth thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2008
    #8
    Business Development for iPhone Apps

    Rob,

    I'd like to take you up on your PM offer but it seems (if I understand the FAQ/Rules correctly) I must have (5) posts before I can PM anybody. I've enabled my PM options in my profile but it does not display. Any suggestios other than posting my email address here?

    Regards,

    gk
     

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