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Table of Contents
- Downloadable Template for Mobile App Terms and Conditions
- What Are Mobile App Terms and Conditions?
- Is a Terms and Conditions For My Mobile App Required?
- Common Clauses to Include In Your Terms and Conditions
- App Store Requirements
1. Downloadable Template for Mobile App Terms and Conditions
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2. What Are Mobile App Terms and Conditions?
A Terms and Conditions agreement explains the rules, requirements, restrictions, and limitations that users must abide by in order to use your mobile application. More specifically, it acts as a binding contract between you and your users that protects the rights of both parties.
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. This not only protects their intellectual property, it allows them to prohibit unwanted activity, and to terminate users that violate their terms.
Disclaimers are official statements that help app developers avoid or prevent unwanted liabilities and claims, and privacy policies disclose how a website handles a user’s personal information. Unlike your terms and conditions section, privacy policies are required by law.
3. Is a Terms and Conditions For My Mobile App Required?
How it benefits you:
Protection from abusive users: This includes issues like copyright infringement, spamming other fellow users, and general misuse of your app.
Arbitration over Litigation: When it comes to settling legal disputes, arbitration is generally considered to be more efficient than litigation. It’s cheaper, quicker, and it forces both parties to work together to resolve the issue.
Maintain termination rights: As the business owner or app developer, you maintain the right to terminate user accounts whenever you see fit.
Limited liability: This will vary from case to case, but laying out clear terms for your mobile app will limit your liabilities to users that may make claims against you.
How it benefits the user: Your agreement should explain the finer points of your app to the user, like how specific payment processes work, what kind of behaviour is expected of users, and how to contact customer support. It also tells them what rights they have as a user.
4. Common Clauses to Include in Your Terms and Conditions
To ensure that your agreement is ironclad, there are several common clauses you should be aware of. Here is a checklist to help you out:
- Define key words: So that users don’t misinterpret your terms, you need to define what potentially ambiguous words in your agreement mean. For example, Facebook refers to all of its brands, products and services as “Facebook Services,” or “Services.” By being explicit as possible, you lessen the chances of a user misinterpreting your intent.
- Rights and Responsibilities of Use: This informs users of what rights they have when using your product. Typically, this means that users are not allowed to do anything that infringes on someone else’s rights or breaks the law.
- Proper or Expected Usage: This explains how your app is intended to be used, and what users are expected to do when they use it. It sounds straightforward, but it gives you boundaries in the event that a user abuses your app.
- Intellectual Property Protection: This protects your Intellectual Property by informing users who the proprietor is, and what exactly defines your Intellectual Property.
- Accountability: You should inform users that they will be held accountable for their actions and conduct.
- Payment Details: Users need to know all the details when it comes to payments. Do they pay a subscription fee or a membership fee? How do they go about making payments?
- Disclaimers and Warranties: Users want to know if your products come with warranties, or if you offer refunds.
- Account Termination: If a user decides to eliminate their account, you need to explain how they are to do it. Include a carefully laid out procedure that guides them each step of the way.
- Exclusion or Limitation of Liability: Should a user incur some kind of damage or harm by using your app, you can actually limit or even prevent any claims they may make against you.
- Notify Users upon Modification of Terms: You need to inform users if and when you make changes to your app, and explain how these changes will affect them.
Some apps are more complex than others. For example, an alarm clock app has a simple, straightforward purpose and function. Something like Dropbox, however, is more complicated because its service is more involved. Since not all apps are the same, the terms you include in your agreement will vary.
We’ve broken down apps into 3 categories:
1. Simple apps: As mentioned above, these apps have a simple function and are easy to use. These agreements typically include:
- Retention of Rights of Ownership/Ban on Infringement
- Retention of the Right to Change the App at Any Time
- Restriction on App Abuses
- Disclaimer of Warranties and Liabilities
- Retention of Right to Terminate/Ban Users
2. Software as a Service (SaaS) Apps: These apps are a little more complicated because they rely on an external cloud to bring their service to users. Usually bigger apps, like Google Docs or Instagram, are considered SaaS apps. Because these apps promote what is referred to as User Generated Content (UGC), certain terms need to be addressed.
Here is what your agreement should mention:
- App owner maintains ownership of app
- App owner can restrict abusive behavior
- App owner can limit liability to user
- App owner can terminate user’s account
3. Ecommerce Apps: Apps that are tied to ecommerce have a very specific purpose: 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.
For a sound agreement, you should include:
- How different types of transactions will be handled
- Inform users about payment terms
- Inform users about shipping policies
- Include your Returns and Refunds policy
Making your Agreement Legally Binding
To ensure that users see and agree to your agreement, you need to make sure it is accessible and easy to find, or obligate users to agree to your terms before they can proceed.
There are three common ways to do this:
1. The Clickwrap Method
Many mobile apps implement what is called the clickwrap method to guarantee that users are aware of their terms and conditions. This method forces users to manually agree to your mobile app’s terms before they are permitted to use your app, as seen in the example below.
2. The Browsewrap Method
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.
3. The Consent Banner Method
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.
5. App Store Requirements
App stores have very 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 agreement when it comes to mobile apps is the End User License Agreement (EULA).
This specific 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.
Apple provides a standard EULA that the user accepts upon downloading an app. You can choose to use Apple’s default agreement, or you have the option of writing your own.
Google Play’s Requirements
Google Play’s stipulations require app developers to acknowledge Google’s right to use their own “Developer Brand Features…solely in connection with the distribution and sale of Developer’s Product through Google Play.” This basically grants Google certain privileges regarding your brand as long as you use their app store.
Here are some good examples of mobile application terms and conditions agreements:
#1: HoKo Buy
HoKo Buy is an ecommerce app that employs the browsewrap method. By downloading and registering the app, the user is agreeing to their Terms & Conditions.
#2: Clash of Clans
#3: Alarm Clock for Me
Although Alarm Clock for Me serves a simple purpose, this SaaS app from Apalon: Essential Apps goes beyond its basic function by incorporating weather forecast features for users. To do this, it recommends that users allow the app to use Location Services.
#4: Viber Messenger
Viber also prompts the user to accept the necessary Terms and Conditions before proceeding to use the app, but you cannot actually view it on the app itself.
Like many other apps, Viber posts its ‘Terms & Policies’ on their website, and they also use their own End-User License Agreement.
Photofy combines photo editing, brand advertising, and even ‘geo-located events’ into one app. This is a great example of a SaaS app that encourages and thrives on User Generated Content; in fact, without user generated content, they wouldn’t have a platform at all. Because Photofy depends so much on its users, they need a sturdy Terms and Conditions to ensure that users behave when using their service.
In the picture below, Photofy requires users to accept their terms before they can create an account.