One of the most common mistakes app developers make is to write their own software development agreement. This typically involves copying (stealing) from someone else’s copyrighted agreement and rewording the contract into what the developer mistakenly believes protects him.
I recently reviewed one of these do-it-yourself software agreements where the developer “borrowed” (stole) the agreement a large company uses to hire developers.
Guess what…the company’s software lawyers drafted that agreement to protect the company, not the developers.
Although there were lots of legal grenades in this developer’s patched-together contract (including who owned the code), probably the most devastating part was the non-compete clauses.
This developer was freelancing using an agreement where he agreed not to do projects for his clients’ competitors for three years. And he also agreed not to do any development projects within the geographic areas his clients did business.
If you were going to agree to not work for three years for clients in most parts of the English-speaking world, chances are you’re going to want to get paid a lot more than this developer was asking in his amateur contract.
Now, perhaps the software developer won’t get sued for his numerous violations of the app development contracts he’s signed. But would you bet your business on that type of senseless risk?
Instead of being a cheapskate by trying to save a few bucks on the front end, the developer should have retained an experienced software lawyer to prepare a custom software development agreement template that fit his business and protected his interests. And if something unique came up for a particular project, have the software attorney modify the development contract’s language to reflect that uniqueness while protecting the developer.