App terms and conditions are an important legal document for app developers and owners, as they establish the rules and restrictions for app use. Terms and conditions for mobile apps help protect your intellectual property, prevent misuse of your app, and limit legal disputes.
This guide will go over what app terms and conditions are, how they benefit you and users, and how to write terms and conditions for your app. Check out examples of other app’s terms, and download our free app terms and conditions template below.
Business owners and app developers often use the same terms and conditions for both their website and mobile applications in order to keep their terms consistent across all platforms.
App terms and conditions help protect the owner’s intellectual property, and allow them to prohibit unwanted user activity and terminate user accounts that violate their terms.
App terms and conditions are different from disclaimers and privacy policies because terms and conditions outline your rights and rules for your app, whereas disclaimers help reduce legal liabilities and privacy policies disclose your data handling practices.
Unlike terms and conditions and disclaimers, privacy policies are often required by law.
No, terms and conditions for your mobile app are not legally required. However, including terms and conditions on your mobile app is strongly recommended, as they give both you and your end-users certain advantages.
While it may be tempting to use the terms and conditions of one of your competitors, it is advised that you do not copy the policies of another website.
Mobile app terms and conditions benefit you and your users by allowing you to establish and maintain your rights as the app owner. They also help users understand what is expected of them when using the app.
Having terms and conditions for your app is best for your business interests and users’ convenience.
App stores have specific requirements for app developers when it comes to terms and conditions agreements. How this affects your mobile application depends on which platform you choose to use.
It should be noted that the most common legal agreement for mobile apps is the end-user license agreement (EULA).
This agreement grants the purchaser the right to use the software. Currently, the two most common platforms to purchase and develop apps are Apple and Google Play.
To create an app terms and conditions agreement, there are some common clauses you should be aware of. Let’s take a closer look at some of these clauses.
This clause explains how your app is intended to be used, and what users are expected to do when they use it. Setting boundaries for app use allows you to take action in the event that a user misuses your app.
In addition to laying out rules for proper use of your app, you should also clearly outline what users can not do on your app. For example, users may be prohibited from spamming, copyright infringement, or collecting data without authorization.
This clause protects your intellectual property by informing users who the proprietor is, and identifying what your intellectual property consists of.
You should inform users that they will be held accountable for their actions and conduct when using your app.
Provide clear explanations of the payment processes and payment details for your app. Topics to address might include subscription fees, payment methods, cancelation, and promotional offers.
Let users know if your products come with warranties, or if you offer refunds. Link to your return policy is you have one, or a no refund policy if you offer goods and services but no refunds.
To reduce legal liabilities related to app use, include a limitation of liability disclaiming that you’re not held accountable for potential losses, and injuries due to app use.
If a user decides to delete their account, explain step-by-step how they are to do it.
This clause can also be used to declare your authority to terminate or suspend accounts of users who violate the terms and conditions.
You need to inform users if and when you make changes to your app, and explain how these changes will affect them.
As the complexity of apps vary, the terms you include in your agreement will vary as well. Let’s look at the standard terms and conditions agreements for three categories of apps:
These apps have a simple function and are easy to use, such as clock or dictionary apps. Common clauses for simple mobile apps include:
These apps are more complex because they rely on an external cloud to bring their service to users, such as Google Docs or Instagram.
Because these apps are often content-sharing platforms, SaaS terms and conditions commonly include a clause addressing user-generated content.
Your terms and conditions should go over ownership rights and rules for user-generated content. For example:
Apps that are used for ecommerce have two main purposes: they either sell products from the app itself, or they connect users who are interested in buying, selling, and trading amongst themselves via the app’s platform.
To ensure that users see and agree to your app terms and conditions, make sure they are easy to find, or get users to agree to your terms before they can proceed using your app.
The browsewrap method assumes that users accept the terms and conditions by simply “accessing or using the Services,” as is implied in Uber’s agreement below. To make sure users can find the agreement, most apps hyperlink it to a main page or homepage.
The consent banner method combines elements of both clickwrap and browsewrap. Consent banners are less intrusive than clickwrap as they still allow users to access your mobile app, yet they are more binding than browsewrap as they don’t assume consent.
These banners appear at the bottom, top, or either side of a user’s screen and include an unticked checkbox or a button asking for user consent to your terms and conditions.
While a banner can make users aware of your terms and conditions in an obvious way, note that banners aren’t mandatory. You can simply link your terms and conditions in your app’s footer or menu.
App terms and conditions differ in appearance and content depending on the purpose of the app. Below are some good examples of mobile app terms and conditions agreements.
Viber also prompts the user to accept the terms and conditions before proceeding to use the app, but you can’t view it on the app itself.
Photofy is a SaaS app that encourages and thrives on user-generated content. Because Photofy depends so much on its users, they need a sturdy terms and conditions agreement to ensure that users follow the rules when using their service.
Photofy requires users to accept their terms before they can create an account.
Although mobile app terms and conditions aren’t legally required, it’s a best practice to have them for your app as they serve as a legally binding agreement that benefits you and your users.
Display your app terms and conditions in prominent places on your app, or get user agreement to your terms and conditions using clickwrap, browsewrap, or a banner.
Whether you copy and paste or download the template below, please remember that this is just a template and should be edited to match your mobile app. Read through the entire policy before using it – fill in all of the [brackets], remove any sections that do not apply to your app, and tweak any language as needed.