Almost everybody hates the legal stuff. They slow things down, cost a lot and the language...well the language is just awful. I am not sure why lawyers cannot use normal sized comprehensive sentences like other human beings, and what do they have against full stops. I am certain that even many lawyers do not like the labyrinth that is the legal world. However, no matter how much we hate the legal stuff, it is a necessary evil, especially in the world of technology, as is evident in the patent wars.While we might think that creating new products and applications is all nice and creative and does not have to get into the legal mess, the legalities can actually affect your product design, and I recently learned this first hand.
While working on my product I had initially settled on a backend data provider, and did the mistake of not reading through its legal documentation thoroughly. After integrating the provider with my product, I stumbled upon a legal term of service that highlighted a major constraint. Now, here I did another mistake. Instead of writing to the provider and clarifying/working things out, I just switched to another provider. Because of this, I had to make some changes to my product design as the new provider had its own constraints, which affected the interface and performance of the product. This switching of providers obviously costed me a lot of time and effort.
Finally I got some sense into myself and approached the original provider clarifying my doubts about some of the terms and constraints, and it turned out that those weren't as bad as I had originally thought and that things could be worked out. I will now be switching back to the original provider - it has been my primary choice for a lot of reasons - and have learnt my lessons.
- ALWAYS READ THE LEGAL STUFF FIRST. While you might want to start with a proof of concept first, make sure you read through the legal terms thoroughly before working on the actual thing.
- If you come across a term or condition that seems to be a constraint, just clarify with the service provider whether it actually means what you think it does, and if it can be worked around/out.
- Make sure that you keep the written proof of your discussions with the service provider. You never know when you might need it - hopefully never.