Mobile Apps: Great Marketing Tool or Litigation Trap for the Unwary?

Vol. 9 Special Edition

Dominique Shelton is a partner in the Litigation Department of Alston & Bird (Los Angeles office). Her practice focuses on litigation and counseling in the areas of privacy, intellectual property, and digital advertising, She can be reached at

Much has changed since Apple launched its app store in 2008. In fewer than five years, the mobile app industry has grown from literally nothing into a force of its own.

In 2012, Fortune 500 companies and start-ups flocked to the mobile app space to upload more than 1,600 apps per day. Consumers reacted by downloading mobile apps more than 30 billion times last year, alone. The breadth of mobile app offerings has grown as well. Apps now exist to help consumers conduct their banking, communicate with medical providers, access their social networks, play games, purchase music, seek insurance, pay for goods, and perform myriad other day-to-day functions.

The explosion of apps in 2012 appears directly related to the increasing use of smartphones in the global marketplace. In 2012, Advertising Age estimated that there were some 946 million smartphone users around the world, with 116 million of those residing in the United States. Increasingly, consumers are using their smartphones to download apps.

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