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I have a friend who is a British Citizen who's also born in England. The same is true for me.

He wants me to develop an application for him where he'll be selling/renting property to people (as part of his business) in an EU country.

While I will be developing the app to someone else in the UK, this app will be dealing with stuff abroad and I'll own the application as part of my freelancing business but will be selling the development of it to him.

Are there any legal things stopping me from doing this or that I should be aware about? (Can I freelance applications and sell the services/development to people while owning the application without needing to fill in extra paperwork, dealing with legal stuff outside of the UK etc?)

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I am not quite clear what you mean by

I'll own the application as part of my freelancing business but will be selling the development of it to him.

I presume that what you will actually be doing is licensing the application to him, after he pays you to develop it.

You and your associate will need to work out the terms of the license. For example, does he pay a recurring fee for the use of the application, or only a one-timer fee? Do you retain the right to license the application to others as well, or is the license exclusive? Do you promise continued maintenance or the development of additional features? If so, on what basis? Is the license permanent, or do you have the right to cancel it on some amount of notice? Or perhaps it lasts for a fixed but limited period? You will want to come to an agreement on these and similar questions, and you may want to have a lawyer draw up the agreement in writing. If not, you should put it in writing yourselves, to clarify your agreement in case of future disputes. There are various published templates for such agreements available.

If there is continued payment, no doubt that will need to be reported to the tax authorities.

Assuming that you are not becoming a partner in the business, and that the business is lawful as far as you know, the details of the business need not concern you, to the best of my understanding. That is, you do not have to prepare or file any paperwork that your associate may need as a consequence of doing business in another country. Just as Microsoft does not need to worry about the legality of any documents that soemoen creates using Word, or about paperwork for any business run using Excel

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  • Thanks for replying! Just to confirm, I will be selling him the service and development of the application. He'll pay for the development and the hosting. I'll build and owe all the code and everything else will be on him. So if I develop apps for people in the UK, it doesn't matter about the audience of the users as long as I keep within local (digital) laws such as GDPR?
    – iProgram
    Aug 29 at 17:19
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    Yes. What he does with the app is his problem. He would be responsible for complying with the GDPR for any personal info he processes. He would also be responsible for any business permissions or taxes needed. // You would be wise to have a written agreement with him as to just what rights you are selling, and what rights you are retaining, and what future services you agree to perform, if any. That agreement should probably include the word "license". It isn't quite as simple as saying 'I own the app." Aug 29 at 22:09

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