Friday, March 22, 2013

Needs App Co-Owner Agreement

Dear Rich: I am starting up a new business that designs educational apps. We have designed our first three apps and are close to submitting our first one to Apple and Android stores. Our designer is my business partner's husband and has worked for free so far. We want to write two contracts: One contract will designate how the monies will be distributed: we would like to use the following percentages: 30/30/30/10 for designer/partner/self/business account for the first two apps. Then if the first two apps earn enough, we would switch to paying the designer a flat fee as we have done for the programmers. We would also like to write up a contract that stipulates who owns the intellectual property rights to the images and what each party can do with them. Our thinking is that we will all own the rights, however, my company will own the sole rights in that we can decide what the designer may do with the images -- for example, he can use them for promotional purposes only for his business. We can use them in the app, our website and any other way we'd like. Is there a standard form for such types of contracts that we could use to modify for us? We're not sure if there is a "standard" form for the arrangements you describe but you could probably modify an innovation joint ownership agreement (assuming you will all be co-owners) -- for example, something similar to the  joint ownership agreement included in our licensing book. You could also draft something by yourself - something that simply sets out what you describe above -- for example that you are all co-owners and that you have different rights when it comes to the images contained in the app. You need to be specific that this agreement applies to the two apps, only, and you need to be clear about who owns the underlying images, and how you will divide and distribute the money (the app stores won't do that for you). As for the flat fee for future apps, you wouldn't need to include that in your current agreement. That could be the subject of a separate agreement. Also, as long as we're hyping our stuff, you might find it helpful to check out our O'Reilly guide for app developers.

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