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Dealing With an Overly-Restrictive Intellectual Property Policy?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the they'll-take-a-mile dept.

Businesses 467

An anonymous reader writes "I am very happy with my current job, but there have always been a few ideas for things I've wanted to develop on the side. Ideally I'd keep my day job, reserving mornings, evenings and weekends to see if the side-projects could become viable. The problem is: my employer has an IP policy that states that anything I do while under their employ is theirs, even when I'm off the clock. Does anyone have suggestions about workarounds, magic loopholes, false identity for the side projects? Anything?"

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Two mostly similar choices (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39013491)

Disclaimer: Where I work they are cool with "moonlighting", with the stipulation being that you must check with legal. Never been in this situation so this is largely guess work based on stories I've heard from others!

The obvious is of course to get a new job. I'm sure lots of people are going to recommend that, but of course it is rarely that simple.. especially in this economy and you like where you are working now.

The less obvious is to negotiate with your employer/your employers legal department. Just be cognisant of the fact that this may inadvertently force you into option 1. If the terms of your employment are there just to cover their ass.. you might be able to work something out if your ideas arn't within their business area. Just keep in mind that you are asking to work on something that you hope will lead to you resigning and pursing full time (I assume) and they may have a problem with that as well.

I guess the real question is, how sold on your own ideas are you? Willing to risk your job?... because I really don't see a way of persuing this that doesn't end there.

Re:Two mostly similar choices (5, Interesting)

mrvan (973822) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013547)

What I did at my current (academic) job is to keep copyright with my employer, but have them license it back to me under GPL. This means that if I move jobs or start my own business I can keep working on these projects. You can sell it to them as showing how they (ie, you) contribute to the community etc, and that they keep all IP so there is no danger of you suing them and they can always relicense.

Downside is of course that your future business model would have to build around an OSS core, but there are various options (OSS backend with proprietary frontend, web business / software as a service (no distribution = no requirement to give source code), proprietary modules that actually make it work (but make sure that the proprietary part cannot be construed as a derived work), etc etc.

Re:Two mostly similar choices (5, Informative)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013639)

At least in academia most places let you separate your work on the side. If you want to use your work on the side as part of your research work well that's where you get into your situation. When they ask "what are you doing on our time" you have to say something.

When it comes to the question at hand, one option is to pitch the ideas to your employer. The other is to get a separate job, or ask to renegotiate that portion of your contract or move into a job within the company with a less restrictive contract. Expect that to come with a significant paycut though.

You actually run the risk, even asking the question, of implying you have an idea for a product on your current companies time, that you may be thinking about (even if not implementing), so if you leave they may claim that work was done on this project on their time, and you're in violation of their agreement, and they have ownership of some of your work. The question posed could be phrased as 'i have this great idea for a product, how do I get out of having to give my employer any money for it'.

Re:Two mostly similar choices (4, Funny)

ray-auch (454705) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013809)

At least in academia most places let you separate your work on the side. If you want to use your work on the side as part of your research work well that's where you get into your situation.

I wouldn't trust that to be the case everywhere - my recollection is of research grants / studentships coming with "everything you do while you get this grant belongs to...". Plus you had to co-operate in patenting it if they wanted and sign over the patents. etc.

That was a lot of years ago though - maybe it's all more enlightened, less money focused and less bureaucratic in academia these days...

Re:Two mostly similar choices (4, Informative)

tchuladdiass (174342) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013771)

This may or may not help with the current situation, but with regards to choice 2, (especially during the hiring process) mention that you do some community work on the side for non-profits, and that the entities you deal with want to make sure there are no legal issues with anything you contribute to them. Sell it as you helping your church with their web site (even if you don't have a church...), or helping with backend systems for running a homeless shelter, etc. That opens the door to them letting you adjust that part of your contract -- after all, which employer would want to be seen as squashing their employee's ability to do charity work / help the community?

Then, take the contract to your lawyer, tell him what you want to have covered, and he will be able to re-word that section of the contract as an amendment for you to have your employer sign. This may work better at hire time than once you've been at a place for a while though. But worth a try.

Re:Two mostly similar choices (4, Interesting)

LehiNephi (695428) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013841)

I found myself in exactly the same position about a year ago. Here's the thought process I went through:

1) If it's a marketable idea, one that could make bucketloads of money, the employer is going to pursue it. They'll even want you to spend work hours on it. Or they'll apply other company resources ($$$) to it.
2) If it's something you think is super cool, but isn't marketable, the employer isn't going to care about whether you do it on your own free time.
3) If it's an idea you think is awesome, your employer doesn't agree, and you turn out to be right (it becomes successful), this is the only place where there's a rub. One option (if it's some sort of internet site) is to run it through a proxy (person)--get a friend/neighbor to set up the service but give you all the necessary access to develop/administer it. Another is to fully develop the idea, but hold off on implementing until you're out of the employ of your current employer. A third option is to talk to legal and/or your boss and see if you can carve out an exemption from your contract for work not related to your employer's business.

For my current employer (who has a policy quite similar to yours), they were very open about the reason for such a policy. Simply put, they're hiring you for your mind, and if you've got a great idea, like it or not you'll be thinking about it during work hours. If you feel your current employer isn't compensating you sufficiently for all of the products of your mind, then you probably need to either A) talk to your employer about it, B) find a new job, or C) reassess how valuable your work really is. No offense is intended, but since you haven't mentioned how well you're paid, or even what industry you're working in, I have to leave it as a possibility.

Re:Two mostly similar choices (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39013893)

Simply put, they're hiring you for your mind

No, my employer is hiring me to do work. If they can't tell me ahead of time what work they want done, they have no claim on it.

and if you've got a great idea, like it or not you'll be thinking about it during work hours.

I think about a lot of things during work hours. As long as I'm not wasting work time just thinking about stuff, they have no reason to complain and no right to dictate what I can or can't think about.

Re:Two mostly similar choices (5, Informative)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013871)

Consulting with the employer's legal department is likely to be unproductive. Their client is the corporation, and they are not under any obligation and are likely prohibited by their State bar's code of professional conduct from telling you what is and is not enforceable in an employment contract. Do not contact the employer's legal department absent your own legal representation and do not attempt to negotiate with the employer's legal department absent your own legal representation. You should also consult with a lawyer on what, if any, retaliation the employer may legally perform in response to any attempts to modify or nullify the employer-employee IP contract.

What is common depends on Where (5, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013501)

There is quite a bit of variation to be found in the practices of companies with regard to this issue.

A good write up is found here: http://www.ieeeusa.org/members/IPandtheengineer.pdf [ieeeusa.org]

The article suggest there are two or three broad models of what is acceptable practice in this ares.

First

The Massachusetts Model is so called because it is prevalent in the northeastern United States. It was developed toward the end of the industrial revolution as a response to shop rights. Agreements written on this model tend to imply that the intellectual life of the employee is company property.

Never backed by law, this model is the most restrictive,

The cycle of innovation and renewal is fundamental to a healthy market economy. To foster this cycle, individuals require the same protections for non-work-related intellectual property that employers enjoy for work-related creations. In 1977, Minnesota formalized this concept with a law limiting the enforceable terms of pre-invention assignment agreements. The Minnesota Model adopts the philosophy that while the employer should enjoy protection, it should not come at the expense of today's employee to become tomorrow's new employer.

In California there are similar laws to the Minnesota system:

The State of California followed in 1980, by implementing protection for its famous entrepreneurial culture. As of this writing Utah, Washington, North Carolina, Kansas, Delaware, and Illinois have also promoted new business formation by means of
similar laws

The text of the California law is on the web here [ca.gov] . Washington state Here. [wa.gov]

Appendix B of the above linked article has a summary of legislation in various states and list of states where such agreements are already limited by state law.

Re:What is common depends on Where (1)

pepty (1976012) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013671)

The State of California followed in 1980, by implementing protection for its famous entrepreneurial culture. As of this writing Utah, Washington, North Carolina, Kansas, Delaware, and Illinois have also promoted new business formation by means of similar laws

I remember when I started grad school in CA in the '90s the IP document I had to sign was so broad it covered literally everything. I could have written a kids novel or built a better mousetrap, either way the document claimed if any of the work was done during the period I was there they could claim it. The reality was that IP assignment was, like many other things, apportioned via the serfdom system: the more clout you had the more control you got.

Re:What is common depends on Where (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013803)

That's fine to keep your IP... but it's very hard to keep your job if they no longer want you employed. If you like to be able to do it on the side, hitting them over the head with the law might not be the best approach.

A Contract Is What? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39013515)

Next time, modify the agreement before you sign it.

Re:A Contract Is What? (3, Insightful)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013583)

May be fine if you have lots of experience and they have specifically saught you out...

For the rest of the world, people are usually just happy to have snagged a job.. the last thing they are gonna do is start making waves before they even get their first pay cheque. Most "negotiations" regarding this kind of boilerplate "everyone signs it" agreement is along the lines of "your employment is conditional on your signing this, if you'd prefer not to, be sure to turn in your card on the way out!"

Re:A Contract Is What? (1)

Almahtar (991773) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013795)

I've worked for a few places that gave me their invention assignment agreements in .doc format. They wanted me to print it, sign it, give it back.
If I'd felt the terms were not reasonable I would have just edited it, signed it, and handed it in without a word. Problem solved.
In my case the terms were reasonable enough so I left them unmodified.

Re:A Contract Is What? (4, Interesting)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013845)

Next time don't even sign it.

The last W2 job I ever worked tried to force something like this on me as well. My response was a lengthy legal agreement in which it spelled out all IP that I currently owned, was involved in creating, limited the scope of the IP they wanted to control to their specific business domains, etc.

They never signed mine, and I never signed theirs. Received a couple of threats from HR, stood my ground, and it just quietly went away. Worked at that company for 3 more years without the signed contract.

ask a lawyer (0)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013523)

Does anyone have suggestions

Oh no, not another "ask a lawyer" question.

As a general rule, this is mostly unenforceable and/or is trivially worked around.

Re:ask a lawyer (3, Insightful)

swright (202401) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013555)

Oh no, not another "ask a lawyer" question.

As a general rule, this is mostly unenforceable and/or is trivially worked around.

That may be, but life is a lot simpler for everyone if we can all work by mutual prior agreement.

*all* contracts start in the favour of the people who wrote them. It's a game to make it mutually fair as much as it is to do a decent tax return or haggle for goods at the market. You may not like that it's a game (I don't!), but it is one.

Re:ask a lawyer (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39013903)

*all* contracts start in the favour of the people who wrote them.

you failed contract law [wikipedia.org]

Re:ask a lawyer (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013665)

Or get your ass hung out to try, because by even discussing the idea and how you would implement it when you leave work, you are violating your contract with the employer and they'll come after you afterwards if they think you have money they can win in a legal battle.

Re:ask a lawyer (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39013775)

Even if you leave now, you can't prove when you started work, or rather, you can't prove you started working on that side-project after leaving the firm instead of before.

Meaning, that you'll get sued either way.

My suggestion is to keep working on your project, but keep it in your head, or at least don't make any tangible evidence. when that contract is up, or you leave, then start working it for real and with lots of documentation every step of the way.

The question I want to ask: You signed those papers, you knew what you were doing. Why back out now? There's this thing called work ethic. You want to pursue your project, then do the right thing and resign, or, work on it. and your company owns it, who knows, maybe you get something out of it, maybe even more than you would by working on it by yourself. Did you try talking to your manager, or someone above about this? Not all corporations are evil, and slashdotters are rarely right(except for IT&C, of course:)

Re:ask a lawyer (2)

The Rizz (1319) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013905)

The question I want to ask: You signed those papers, you knew what you were doing. Why back out now? There's this thing called work ethic.

Why is it not ethical for an employee want to keep the rights to something they created and did not get paid by the company for? (Unless they're giving you some kind of bonus for something you create, or you are specifically in a think-tank sort of job, you're NOT getting paid for inventing something for them!)

It's one thing if you create something as a direct result of your assigned work (i.e., you're building their mousetrap, and figure out how to improve it), but when it's wholly unrelated (perpetual motion), why should they have any claim over it? When it's related (hey, this mousetrap can be modified to catch kittens instead), there should be a process where you bring it to management and they either (a) pay you a bonus for the idea, (b) give you co-ownership of it, (c) devote some of your work hours to the project, or (d) drop all claims so long as you don't devote company resources to it (time/equipment).

TALK to them (5, Informative)

swright (202401) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013535)

Yes - explain why you don't like this, and what you intend to do in your spare time that you wish to retain ownership of.

These clauses usually come from a desire that employees don't misappropriate company IP and use it to write something competing. Or for a competitor (where the 'who owns what' question becomes murkier).

Any reasonable employer will write you an exclusion, but likely with a no-compete clause, which is fair enough.

IANAL, but I write the above as an employer, running a tech team of 21.

Re:TALK to them (0)

tqk (413719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013655)

Yes - explain why you don't like this, and what you intend to do in your spare time that you wish to retain ownership of.

Why? Do you pay your employees for 24 hours/day? Why do you consider yourself entitled to things you're not paying for?

Re:TALK to them (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39013863)

He takes it because he can. Same reason you take it back if the law allows you, even though you signed the document - because you can. There is no notion of entitlement involved, it's all about what you can take and what you can hold. There is no mechanism by which employers and employees can arrive at something that is fair, which is a murky concept anyway, it will only be a question of how the relative negotiating power of employer and employees interact. Employers usually win that one because they are professional people manipulators, while the employees are rank amateurs in that arena. It doesn't matter if the CEO is morally entitled to a 100 million dollar bonus, it only matters that now he has 100 million dollars. When an employer is hiring you, it never crosses his mind what you are worth or entitled to, it only crosses his mind how small of an offer he can make and still have you or someone else qualified take the job. It is about what is possible, not what is fair.

Re:TALK to them (1)

The Rizz (1319) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013953)

His statements sound completely reasonable, why do you think they make him out to be claiming the employee's whole life?
He said that they just want to make sure the employee isn't either doing IP-related work for a competitor (fair, since that'll cause no end of IP-related legal issues on anything he's working on), or creating a product that competes with their own products (fair again).

Use an LLC (1)

K2tech (1685250) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013539)

Setup a basic LLC for yourself. Create the items/ideas under that. Document your time spent to show that it did not conflict with your full time job.

Re:Use an LLC (2)

XaXXon (202882) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013643)

But they can just fire you. Ability to do stuff on your own time isn't a protected class.

Attorney time (3, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013545)

Time to talk to an attorney to see what is legal in your state.

often times the 'restrictions' you are required to sign aren't actually legal and are designed just to scare you, but unless they are challenged they stick.

If you find out its OK, with a company like that breathing down my neck id still document everything i do off hours so i can clearly show it was done on my time, with my materials if it ever came to that point. " Code section created x-date/time" "Receipts of hardware and software", etc.

Don't use any company resources either. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39013603)

That's one thing we had to remember when we were doing an after-hours
startup. Everything was on separate machines, no trace of the startup
was to be on the employers systems.

But as always, talk to a lawyer.

Re:Attorney time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39013677)

How can you prove you didn't think about it/ develope the idea on company time? Development and implementation are sepatate concepts after all.

If its similar in nature to what they pay you for, expect their lawyers to go after you. Get yourself a lawyer now and find out what's legal where you are.

Just change your terms of employment... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39013553)

Give your employer written notice that you are unilaterally varying the terms of your contract of employment to rescind that part of the policy due to your weekend work on other projects, and that your continued employment will constitute their acceptance of your change. They're pretty unlikely to give a toss about what you get up to on the weekend, thus you'll keep your job and won't have the worry of that policy.

Re:Just change your terms of employment... (3, Interesting)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013783)

Or... and I know this is going to sound insane... ask your boss if it'd be okay before going all agro on them.
That way you could keep your job even if they wouldn't mind you doing stuff on the side.

Have you talked to your boss? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39013557)

Usually the easiest answer is the most straightforward one: Have you talked to your boss whether they could grant you special dispensation from that IP clause so you can pursue your dream? Everything else would be legally shaky (except if you happen to live in a country like Germany, where AFAIK such a clause would be illegal unless you used company resources for your project or did it on company time). So unless a lawyer tells you that clause is illegal in your contract, the only safe options you have is get your boss to waive that clause (or enough of it to allow your project), or to quit your job. And even when a lawyer tells you it is illegal, you should probably talk to them.

The last thing you want to do is show up at a future new employer after just having sued your previous employer. Nor do you really want to stay at an employer you've had to sue. All contracts eventually rely on trust. If that's not there anymore, you won't enjoy your job much.

You can't negotiate (2, Interesting)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013561)

After the contract has been signed.

So basically they have you by the short and curlies. But if you do try to hide stuff and manage to make it big time - hope that you make enough to hire a decent lawyer who will tie your current employer in knots. I hear that East Texas can be friendly for that sort of litigation.

OTOH you can always delve into IP that while legal, would be the sort of thing that your current employer would find repulsive. What was that link again? 1 girl, 2 D sized cups???

But one final comment. You say that "I am very happy with my current job", but given that you are trying to circumvent your employment contract I'd argue that you are not happy with your current job.

Re:You can't negotiate (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013599)

But one final comment. You say that "I am very happy with my current job", but given that you are trying to circumvent your employment contract I'd argue that you are not happy with your current job.

It's not possible to have one gripe with your current job while still enjoying it?

Re:You can't negotiate (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013757)

It's not possible to have one gripe with your current job while still enjoying it?

To say "I like my job, but there is this major part of it I want to change" is self deluding. Once you get past that then you can see what is really important to you.

Re:You can't negotiate (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013877)

But the part he finds flawed might not be big enough to make him dislike the job as a whole.

Re:You can't negotiate (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013945)

But the part he finds flawed might not be big enough to make him dislike the job as a whole.

But until he can admit that his overall job package is flawed (ie it is more restrictive than what he wants), he really can't seek an honest solution.

Re:You can't negotiate WRONG (1)

The Other White Meat (59114) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013819)

Sorry, but you are completely wrong. There is even a term for it:

        Renegotiating a Contract.

You can speak with your employer about negotiating an exemption, or new terms entirely.
They are by no means required to renegotiate, but if they do, the new contract replaces the old.

You may want to hire an attorney to draft the modified agreement and/or be present at negotiations.

In professional circles, this sort of thing happens all the time; no need for all the drama being suggested.

Re:You can't negotiate WRONG (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013843)

Sorry, but you are completely wrong.

Disagree and you may think I am splitting hairs .. but renegotiating is crafting a new contract .. not negotiating terms on a contract that has been signed.

Re:You can't negotiate WRONG (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013857)

Sorry, but you are completely wrong.

And what I should have added was that if the company doesn't want to renegotiate the contract then the OP is SOL. It takes two to tango, but if one party doesn't want to then you have to suck it up. Its all about power. As one poster put it .. the people who write the contract have the power.

Ethics (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39013567)

If you signed an agreement saying that you would turn relevant IP over to your employer during your employment there, then not doing so would be unethical. It seems that what you're asking us to do is help you either break the law or be unethical. If your side project is truly not the property of your employer (e.g. you work for a car company and you are inventing a new gardening technique on the side) then you are legally protected to pursue it and patent it yourself.

By the way, the agreement that you signed, almost certainly says that ideas you developed while employed there belong to them, regardless of whether you quit the job to pursue them or not. Not only would it be unethical to do so, they could sue you and get the patent rights. Some clarification on your situation might be nice because I don't really understand why you're asking /. to help you break the law.

Re:Ethics (2, Insightful)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013675)

It's also unethical for an employer to claim ownership of something that was a) not created on request of said employer and b) where the employee was not compensated for.
What you're basically are saying is that the dinner you make at home after work is property of the company you work for. That's rather ludicrous.

Also... ethics... it's just like religion. Everybody has their own set of rules.

Loopholes? Workarounds? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39013575)

The problem is: my employer has an IP policy that states that anything I do while under their employ is theirs, even when I'm off the clock. Does anyone have suggestions about workarounds, magic loopholes, false identity for the side projects? Anything?

Have you actually talked to them about it? Outline the sort of projects you want to work on, see what undertakings they'd need and what they're prepared to agree to. Do you really make a habit of looking for workarounds and loopholes in the agreements you enter into? If that's really your thing then talk to a lawyer, but otherwise talk to your employer and decide whether you want to stay with them or whether you want to purrsue your projects or whether you can amicably do both.

What? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39013579)

Why is this even legal?

Re:What? (2)

AG the other (1169501) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013679)

Why is this even legal?

It isn't in some states.

Re:What? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39013923)

Because it kind of sucks for the company if you hire 20 people to think up brilliant ideas, pay them for a year, and when they come up with something worth billions, they all leave and make a start-up and do it themselves.

Have you asked? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39013587)

You know, you could simply ask your employer for a waiver for a specific project. They're often happy to do so for anything that's not related to their business. (These kinds of IP policies are often simply to give them the opportunity to make that determination.)

They might impose a few requirements like not using company time or resources, but that's hardly unreasonable.

Then again, since you're asking about creating a false identity, it sounds like they might have very good reason not to trust you on this.

Ask your lawyer or quit your job (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39013589)

Quit your job. Clearly not your first option as stated in the summary. However, the problem is that any workarounds you use are just likely to work as long as your side project is small and invisible. At some point, if a side project took off, then you would presumably be interested in pursuing that full time and under your own legal name. That's precisely the point at which your employer is going to get interested and start digging. Given the language in your contract, your employer will at least think they have a legal leg to stand on which implies a good chance they'll take you to court. At that point, it becomes a contest between your lawyer and their law team. Thus, your first step is really to ask your lawyer. If you're not willing to pay a small amount to get some advice now, you can expect to wish you had later when the price or lost revenue is much larger.

Enslavement (1)

Grindalf (1089511) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013597)

This is enslavement, your employer is liable to prosecution under US federal law. Look it up, there have been a few prominent cases in the media recently ...

Oh Noes! (2)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013701)

Not the media!

"Found guilty by the New York Times, they vowed to appeal their case to the Wall Street Journal".

Get a lawyer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39013611)

Get a lawyer, find out what your options are, then talk to your boss. There is a chance a contract that broad might not be enforceable or that the company lawyer who wrote it was being over cautious and no one has really pointed out to management that as-is is not appropriate.

I was in a similar position once that a company asked me and all other employees after I had been hired and working there for several months to sign a new policy similar to this. I refused, explained my issue with the contract. A few days later I found myself explaining the issue to the company owner and he agreed. They wrote me a new contract (apparently I was the only one that didn't sign) which I found acceptable that didn't try to claim ownership of my off the clock activities.

Personally if they can't accommodate that, I don't care how much you like that job, Anyone that blatantly disrespects your time away from work like that is not worth working for. We have jobs so that we can have the money to do what we want and need when not working, To have money but still not be able to fulfill your wants and needs outside the job kinda defeats the purpose.

Read things before you sign them. (2, Interesting)

Pathwalker (103) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013613)

You should have negotiated this before you started employment.

Once, when I objected to terms that would have granted the company ownership over everything I did outside of work, they just swapped out that page with another one they had ready. The different terms were there and ready, but just not the default. They were perfectly happy to give me the rights to my own projects, as long as I was willing to ask for them.

It does suck when you didn't pay attention to what you signed, and are stuck in a bad situation, and it can be hard to fix these things after the fact.

Your best option would probably to look for another job, and pay attention to what they are asking you to sign.

Hopefully you don't have any long term non-competes, or other clauses.

Re:Read things before you sign them. (1)

Salgak1 (20136) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013837)

Agreed. I faced this several years ago: the company I worked for had a similar policy. But when I signed on, I negotiated a standing exemption for my songs and my fiction: when posed reasonably ( and a few previous samples of each provided), they had no problem exempting them. After all, they were paying me to engineer and implement systems, not write lyrics or short stories. . .

Sounds weird to me. (1)

Gonoff (88518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013615)

Can that be a legal requirement?

If I do something legal in my own time on my own equipment in my own home with my own ideas, it has nothing to do with my employer. Surely that cannot stand up in court?
But I do not have your constitution to 'protect' me.

Re:Sounds weird to me. (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013807)

Absolutely it can be legal it depends on the jurisdiction and how close the stuff you do in your own time is to your day job eg if you do embedded design at work but develop an nosql system in your spare time you might be OK.

Certainly both US and UK employment law has similar roots so unfortunately employees get the short end of the stick here. IANAL but I am an "approved" person as defined in UK Law and I have had this discussion with some one who is now in a senior HR role in a FTSE 100 Tech company.

ask a lawyer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39013621)

Our speculation is worthless. Ask a lawyer. It's their job...

Ask EFF or ACLU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39013623)

I'm just a law student, but that sounds like a policy that would not stand up to judicial scrutiny. One key factor is the state you are in. For example, California tends not to recognize non-compete agreements while other states do. So it's possible some states would be more likely than others to find your particular IP agreement invalid. I suggest contacting a public interest org like EFF or ACLU to see if they know of any case law in your state that has found an IP agreement like yours invalid.

Re:Ask EFF or ACLU (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013829)

You might want to check with your lecturer that covers employment law and its not a non compete in this case more theft of trade secrets I would imagine - I doubt the EFF or the ACLU is going to be into reforming employment law.

New job (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013627)

Seek a new job. Otherwise, if your invention or code makes any money, expect to be sued.

Have you talked to them about it? (3, Insightful)

dirk (87083) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013629)

The first step should be to talk to them about it and see if they will revise it for you. I work for a company that took a boilerplate IP Policy and wanted to roll it out (like I'm sure many companies do). When they did this, I talked to them and asked them to change it because the way it was written, they basically controlled anything I did. I cited the fact that they could use it for anything from claiming rights to a novel I would write, to any invention I came up with, to even using it to force me to take down a personal website I designed for myself. They obviously replied with "but we wouldn't do that" so I asked them to change it since they had no plans to ever do any of that. I rewrote the agreement to include anything worked on during company time or anything directly related to company work, and they had no issues with that. If you are happy with your employer, and have a good relationship with them, going tot hem should be your first step. If they are reasonable (which is a big if depending on the company and area of business) they hopefully won't have any issue changing it.

A practical matter (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013633)

As someone who has been in that situation: go talk to your employer. Some will allow you to modify your employment contract to cover the umbrella case of IP outside of work hours. Some will officially sign over rights to you on a particular side project you're working on. Some simply can't do either, as they have iron-clad contracts with other people who require that clause for rights clarity purposes. Some will offer to partner with you on the project, or otherwise compensate you for the idea but have it within their system.

If you're in one of the states where outside work is generally exempt from these contracts (California, for example), then you probably don't need to go to your employer necessarily. But it will help cut off a potentially expensive lawsuit in the future.

And if you're not in one of the states that explicitly grants exemptions, don't just go ahead expecting that you'll win the legal battle.

Re:A practical matter (1)

Que_Ball (44131) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013703)

And if you're not in one of the states that explicitly grants exemptions, don't just go ahead expecting that you'll win the legal battle.

Good advice. I would suggest the outcome will depend on if the outside project is related in any way to the job you do. If it can be argued that your knowledge required to complete the project was acquired as a result of your employment or a result of training your received at work then things may not be resolved in your favour.

Here's a snippet from my employment agreement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39013641)

"2.3 Assignment of Inventions. Subject to
Section 2.5, I hereby assign and agree to assign in the
future (when any such Inventions or Proprietary
Rights are first reduced to practice or first fixed in a
tangible medium, as applicable) to the Company all
my right, title and interest in and to any and all
Inventions (and all Proprietary Rights with respect
thereto) whether or not patentable or registrable
under copyright or similar statutes, made or
conceived or reduced to practice or learned by me,
either alone or jointly with others, during the period
of my employment with the Company. Inventions
assigned to the Company, or to a third party as
directed by the Company pursuant to this Section 2,
are hereinafter referred to as "Company
Inventions."
2.4 Obligation to Keep Company
Informed. During the period of my employment and
for six (6) months after termination of my
employment with the Company, I will promptly
disclose to the Company fully and in writing all
Inventions authored, conceived or reduced to practice
by me, either alone or jointly with others. In addition,
I will promptly disclose to the Company all patent
applications filed by me or on my behalf within a
year after termination of employment. The Company
will keep in confidence and will not use for any
purpose or disclose to third parties without my
consent any confidential information disclosed in
writing to the Company pursuant to this Agreement
relating to Inventions."

Does this mean if I start developing iPhone apps or set up a blog in my spare time, that would be considered my employer's property?!

A double edged sword. (5, Interesting)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013649)

When the company has a blanket policy that takes the employee's inventions, it can come to bite them in the ass.

When I was illegally fired by Microsystems, Inc. ("MSI") they took possession of work I did on my own time using my own tools. However, on the workers comp. claim their denial was based on the claim the tendinitis was caused in part by my work at home. Either MSI fraudulently denied the workers comp. claim, or committed fraud by asserting and taking possession of the work I did on my own time.

By having a blanket policy of owning everything you do, the employer could be on the hook for everything you do.

Off the clock? (1)

koan (80826) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013657)

If you aren't using their resources or time I don't think that's legal, and if it is get a new job.

GTFO ASAP (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013663)

This kind of work condition is absolutely unacceptable.

Re:GTFO ASAP (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013847)

But perfectly legal in many places.

Please don't release anything as open source. (3, Informative)

Pathwalker (103) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013681)

If you don't actually own the rights to what you are writing, please don't contaminate open source projects by including code owned by your employer.

Cleaning up a contaminated code base is a big pain. Please make sure you own the code, or have the rights to release it before setting it free.

Leave (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39013685)

Don't put up with that kind of bullshit, you should of laughed when you read that subservient crap and told them no before you started the job

act like a peasant, get treated like one

IAAL. (1)

crankyspice (63953) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013697)

If you're in California, call me. :) Mention Slashdot and receive 50% off the initial consultation, normally priced at $0.00 (USD).

Renegotiate contract (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013709)

Renegotiate contract, talk to your company about your plans, quit... don't try to cheat your way around a contract you knowingly signed.

I've been open about my private programming endevors with each employer I worked for, before I signed the contracts, and none have ever been a problem. They usually require you to sign a paper which states you can't use company-specific knowledge/IP/etc (which I find understandable), but otherwise I've never been limited to what I can do in my own spare time. Most employers are perfectly reasonable people too.

Then again, the judicial system in my country (Netherlands) aren't particularly fond of "unbalanced" contracts such as EULA's, NDA's and non-competes. From what I know, US laws favor corporate interrests a lot more.

Depends on the location (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013719)

It'll depend in part on how willing your employer is to negotiate those terms, and in part on what the law in your state is. For instance in California you have California Labor Code sections 2870-2872 [ca.gov] governing IP agreements. That law trumps anything in the agreement. Since I live and work in CA, I make it a point to mark up any IP agreements with a note about those sections before signing it. You'll want to check the law in your state, depending on what it says you may have more leverage with your employer.

Two choices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39013723)

Basically you have three choices:

1. Suck it up. You signed the employment contract with the onerous terms. Live with it and try not to mourn your dreams too much.
2.Renegotiate your employment contract. Get the modified terms in writing.
3.Quit and start your own company. Maybe you'll be the next app store millionaire.

Don't sign such a contract (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013737)

Just strike out those bits before you sign it - chances are they don't actualy care enough about them to argue.

Of course since you already have, either find out it is overridden by some applicable law or bad luck.

Don't try and "trick" your way around - while chances are they won't care at all if you happen to luck into the next angy birds/minecraft/facebook/google you can bet those tricks won't hold up when the lawyers come.

Well, teach them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39013739)

Burn a police station (or similar) to the ground - if cought state it was the employers idee and produce your contract. ;)

Renegotiate your agreement. (2)

subreality (157447) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013741)

I am very happy with my current job, but there have always been a few ideas for things I've wanted to develop on the side. Ideally I'd keep my day job

Stop right there and put a period at the end. That's the opening of the letter you send to HR.

The next part is, "But I'll quit if I have to."

Then stop and consider real hard whether this is actually true before you sign your name to it.

Then the ball's in their court. You'll either get canned in short order, or they'll sit down with you and negotiate a contract where you belong to them during business hours but you own your own soul afterward. Which result you get depends on what kind of company it is... Some really do think that owning your whole life like property is the proper order of the world and be offended at your sheer audacity of thinking otherwise. Perhaps if they're paying really well that will be worth it, but if that was the case, you wouldn't be here now, would you?

I personally suggest you reneg even if you live in a state where such IP agreements are invalid. They can still sue you for the rights to your New Big Thing, and you will not have the time or money to fight it even if you'd theoretically win in the end. Get it in clear writing that you own your own time.

Personal experience (1)

AG the other (1169501) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013745)

As a sometime composer and arranger I was faced with an overly broad IP policy at a previous employer.
The way it was written they could have claimed just about anything that I did including recordings. I asked for a clarification of that clause in my contract and they admitted that it wasn't even legal in my state. It might be worth checking with a lawyer.

what happens to open source work? under laws (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013751)

what happens to open source work? under laws like this I don't thing some places can say you did work on X open source projects and now we own the rights to the full IP of the project.

Don't quit your job (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013759)

Don't quit your job ... just yet. And don't start your side project, yet, either.

Do start the hunt for a new job. Investigate the laws of various states you would be willing to move to, to see what kind of negotiating power you might have with potential employers in those states. Only after you have acquired a new job should you resign from your old job.

Whether to tell them this is the reason, or not, is up to you. They MAY want to counter offer. If they do, suggest to them that in addition to matching salary, you want them to replace their IP policy to one that protects employees rights to do things on their own, not on company time, not with company resources, unrelated to company interests as known to the employee, as belonging exclusively to the employee. Also ask for side projects that are related to the company interest to be shared between company and employee 50/50, and that if the company does not exploit the idea in 4 years (this being the test if it really has company interest), it reverts to exclusively owned by the employee.

Or just move on to the better company. If your idea does relate to your previous employer, or is something they are interested in, or competes with them, they will likely have issues with this and could sue your IP infringement (e.g. you knew their technology, etc).

IP should be declared null and void (1)

cellocgw (617879) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013793)

IMHO, of course. There are NDAs and Proprietary Technology agreements that any company can require for specific projects or capabilities. It should end there. The thought that a corporation can own your thoughts, no matter how derivative, is just sad. Then again, so is the currrent state of copyright law. Not much way around IP (and copyright) law without a massive multi-target Pelican Brief operation :-(

Ask them if they also own your home made porn. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39013805)

You might like to ask legal or HR that if all intellectual property you create whilst employed to them means that they own it whether or not "home made porn" also fits that category (consider that you would otherwise have the copyright over the video and thus it amounts to intellectual property.)

Now if they do want to own that, inform them that you'll need to put the company logo on your home made porn before you upload it to youtube... well, not necessarily upload to youtube, but that ought to get them thinking about exactly how broad they want their reach to be. Rinse and repeat for writing an erotic story.

At this point your employer should be saying that not every piece of intellectual property that you create is theirs. Thus you need for them to determine what exactly they do and do not claim ownership over.

What's likely to be the case is that they'll want ownership of anything and everything related to their business. So if they hire you to work on Linux, then any work you do at home on Linux (be it their version or another), or on BSD or any other operating system would be owned by them. Similarly writing a piece of software that was related to what is already found (or a job performed) there would also be covered.

I've been down this road and it may be that the only option for you is to find another job.

What this really boils down to is that for people that are hobbyists, it can be a bit of a blow to work for some IT companies because it means you lose ownership of whatever it is you would normally do as a hobby. For those that live and eat work only or for whom programming is a work only thing, no problem is present.

Almost certainly unenforceable (2, Informative)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013825)

If you are working off the clock, and not using the employer's resources or facilities, I'm nearly certain this is void. If you're using the employer's resources or facilities, the employer likely has at least partial ownership. You may want to visit a law library and ask the law librarians how to search for materials relevant to your concern, or consult with an employment lawyer.

Work with your company's legal team (1)

rockmuelle (575982) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013833)

I work under a similar, very restrictive IP agreement. I raised the issue of side projects with the corporate lawyer in charge of IP and explained the types of projects I do on the side for fun and profit. While the company does not grant blanket exclusions, they were happy to review them on a project by project basis and grant exceptions.

Their goal was to protect the company's business using standard legal tools. Just like my job requires me to use my skils to the fullest, so does theirs. However, talking through it made it clear that there was no malicious intent.

One important thing to know when doing this: the lawyers represent the company and are ethically bound to put the company's interests first. They won't be able to give you any legal advice. You may want to talk to a lawyer first, just so you have outside counsel.

Also, this is just business for the company. The more you treat as business (and not good vs evil), the better chance you'll have of success.

-Chris

I am worried about this myself. (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013873)

I just signed on with a company that has a blanket statement in the contract similar to this. IN fact they also asked to list any prior inventions so they could be exempted. I have several business ideas but these (to me at least) are not 'inventions' so how do I put a business idea on the document? They are not related even slightly to the company I am now hired by, but I do want to further research and possibly develop them in the next year or two. I took the job (and signed the contract) as it was, because I was nearly homeless for lack of employment and needed it asap. I was not in a great position to negotiate from for this and several other reasons. Now I feel trapped by it and hope it does not bite me if and when I decide to go off on my own. So, any intelligent discussion on this matter is welcome by more than just the original submitter!

Re:I am worried about this myself. (2)

jholyhead (2505574) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013933)

Why the hell didn't you deal with this before signing it?

Desperation is an excuse for signing if even if they wouldn't budge, but it isn't an excuse for not even trying to budge them in the first place. They offered you a contract - you were in the position of strength at that moment and you bottled it. Now you are under contract and are in a position of weakness relying on your employer's goodwill. Not a place you want to be.

Talk to your boss first thing tomorrow. The longer you leave it, the harder it will be to change it.

Do you have kids? (1)

owenferguson (521762) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013875)

If you have kids, just teach them what they need to know to start the business idea themselves. Also works with a trusted friend or sibling. Give the idea to someone who's not as encumbered by a poorly-negotiated contract.

Re:Do you have kids? (1)

jholyhead (2505574) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013939)

That's fine if you have a kid who is also a partner in a corporate law firm.

You think your employers wont chance their hand with a judge if you build something profitable? Could you afford to contest a suit if they did file?

I have a 'creative' (1)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013879)

wife/son/sibling

false identity is probably your best bet (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013881)

That said, if you care at all about the morality of the matter you should avoid actually infringing on the technology of your employer.

We've had a lot of betrayal lately. Lots of people stabbing each other in the back. Just make sure your coding isn't taking proprietary technology or ideas from your parent company.

Whatever you think you're getting paid, if the customer wants that then you're probably more of a code smuggler then a coder. And you might be able to make a lot more money if you facilitated the transaction through your company rather then around it.

People that bring business into a company are prized above all others. I don't care how smart you are or how hard you work. The "rainmakers" are always top dog. If you can bring a big contract into your company then the company will love you. If you can do it repeatedly they'll give you your own private island and yacht.

Think big picture. Does the company have a product or service that is being undersold or that you know a new market to push it in? Try that. If you can make your company a lot of money then you might make a lot more money without having to work as hard.

Betrayal is a toxic behavior that destroys civilization and industry. We are most successful when we work together. We can accomplish things together that we cannot accomplish alone. Betrayal makes all of that impossible. And with a little trust and mutual cooperation we can make everyone far richer and pro productive then we would have ever been otherwise.

Now your company could betray you as well. If they're stupid then they might. Be careful about making it hard for them to back stab you if you actually have a good idea. But try to work through them if you can because the profits will be bigger if you can make the company itself wealthy in the process.

right of first refusal? (1)

Amigan (25469) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013885)

My employer also has such a policy. It even goes to covering things in business areas that they might get involved in.

One thing I have learned is that while they have the right of first refusal, if they choose not to pursue the idea, I can ask to have it reassigned back to me and pursue on my own. That might be your only option, assuming what you're pursuing doesn't compete with your current employer.

it's better to do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39013907)

and ask forgiveness later than to always ask permission and never get anything done. there are so many laws, that pretty much everything is illegal if you ask enough lawyers. If you have a truly great idea, just do it!

depends (1)

alienzed (732782) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013911)

If the work you want to do at home is based heavily on what you do at work, I can see your employer having a problem with it. If it's totally independant, get a lawyer, cover your ass and do what you will. I'm sure that it is illegal to retain ownership of something you invent while not being paid, but that implies that you aren't directly benefitting from your paid time to invent something when you aren't on the clock. For example, if you learn to build a Web 2.0 style website at work, and build a monetized web 2.0 website while at home, there's a problem there. But if you're an accountant and you build a website in your spare time, I would find it hard to believe that your company could claim any sort of ownership.

you have two options (1)

cas2000 (148703) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013915)

renegotiate your contract or quit.

you should never have signed such an onerous agreement in the first place. I've never had any problems form employers when refusing to sign such contracts and always insist on them being rewritten so that anything done on my time on my equipment remains mine, and that any of my contributions to open source projects are licensed under the terms of that project.

(sometimes it takes the lawyers a few attempts to get it right - i've found that even if the boss is willing, lawyers have difficulty understanding that their client actually wants the contract to be fair)

on a related note, IMO if your employer wants to own everything you create on your own time then they should pay you for 24 hours/day, 7 days/week - prob. about 4 times your current pay (based on a working week of 40 hours).

Stop being so happy with your current employer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39013917)

Stop being so happy with them and start taking a hard look at how much they are taking advantage of you. They think they own every thought in your head. Even though what they are asserting in their contract is nearly impossible to enforce it is an indication that they really don't care about the individual employee.

The way to deal with this is to start looking for another job post-haste and to make absolutely certain that the new employer doesn't have a clause in their contract such as this. Don't raise a stink, just vote with your feet and make certain that when you do leave that people understand why.

This is the only proper way to deal with this kind of idiotic policy.

GC

Washington State law protects you if you live here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39013919)

From http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=49.44.140

RCW 49.44.140

Requiring assignment of employee's rights to inventions — Conditions.

(1) A provision in an employment agreement which provides that an employee shall assign or offer to assign any of the employee's rights in an invention to the employer does not apply to an invention for which no equipment, supplies, facilities, or trade secret information of the employer was used and which was developed entirely on the employee's own time, unless (a) the invention relates (i) directly to the business of the employer, or (ii) to the employer's actual or demonstrably anticipated research or development, or (b) the invention results from any work performed by the employee for the employer. Any provision which purports to apply to such an invention is to that extent against the public policy of this state and is to that extent void and unenforceable.

          (2) An employer shall not require a provision made void and unenforceable by subsection (1) of this section as a condition of employment or continuing employment.

          (3) If an employment agreement entered into after September 1, 1979, contains a provision requiring the employee to assign any of the employee's rights in any invention to the employer, the employer must also, at the time the agreement is made, provide a written notification to the employee that the agreement does not apply to an invention for which no equipment, supplies, facility, or trade secret information of the employer was used and which was developed entirely on the employee's own time, unless (a) the invention relates (i) directly to the business of the employer, or (ii) to the employer's actual or demonstrably anticipated research or development, or (b) the invention results from any work preformed [performed] by the employee for the employer.

See a lawyer, ask if what you say is really true. (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013925)

It probably isn't. If it is, have the lawyer write up a set of modifications that would make the policy acceptable to you. Present it to your employer and if he won't agree to it, quit.

Washington State law protects you if you live here (3, Informative)

TwineLogic (1679802) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013929)

Maybe your state has a similar law?

From http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=49.44.140 [wa.gov]

RCW 49.44.140

Requiring assignment of employee's rights to inventions — Conditions.

(1) A provision in an employment agreement which provides that an employee shall assign or offer to assign any of the employee's rights in an invention to the employer does not apply to an invention for which no equipment, supplies, facilities, or trade secret information of the employer was used and which was developed entirely on the employee's own time, unless (a) the invention relates (i) directly to the business of the employer, or (ii) to the employer's actual or demonstrably anticipated research or development, or (b) the invention results from any work performed by the employee for the employer. Any provision which purports to apply to such an invention is to that extent against the public policy of this state and is to that extent void and unenforceable.

(2) An employer shall not require a provision made void and unenforceable by subsection (1) of this section as a condition of employment or continuing employment.

(3) If an employment agreement entered into after September 1, 1979, contains a provision requiring the employee to assign any of the employee's rights in any invention to the employer, the employer must also, at the time the agreement is made, provide a written notification to the employee that the agreement does not apply to an invention for which no equipment, supplies, facility, or trade secret information of the employer was used and which was developed entirely on the employee's own time, unless (a) the invention relates (i) directly to the business of the employer, or (ii) to the employer's actual or demonstrably anticipated research or development, or (b) the invention results from any work preformed [performed] by the employee for the employer.

Contract signed sealed and delivered (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39013937)

A employed can claim your IP no matter when you work on it, but..First of all you should not have signed that contract, a contract symbolizes both parties agree. You can however renegotiate it (try to find a different set of rules you agree on, namely that it does not mention 'all') if your idea falls outside the practical scope of you work activities. The law makes that distinction at least in Holland, we apply law to reason and fairness, not to the 'letter' as in some countries. If you work in a motor company as an accountant and you invent a new type of engine at home, that IP would not be a candidate for confiscation. If you are one of the engine designers, then yes, because the inspiration for you design may have come from your work environment or a result of your experience in it.

If you are smart you renegotiate the contract for other reasons, and try to get the explicit words out of it. Tell them it doesn't protect them optimally to make their own rules.

Would it be fun to. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39013959)

If you can't get out of the contract.
Just make a note of the time taken to create the project/idea.
Cost to you in parts and labour (if applicable)
And bill them for the above at overtime rates.

Well if they want the IP they gotta pay for it.

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