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Worrying About Employment Contracts?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the read-before-you-sign dept.

Businesses 98

An anonymous reader wonders: "I was preparing to accept a software developer job at a California company and was put off by the contract which claimed ownership of any ideas I create (on my own time or at the company) during my stay at the company and required me to inform them of any ideas (related to the company or not) during my employment and for a year afterwards. I've found references to a couple of instances where this became a legal problem for the developer. Is this something to worry about?"

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Contracts are what the parties involve agree on. (4, Informative)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 7 years ago | (#18904647)

If you don't like to have your ideas pwned by some corporation, ask them to take the offending lines out of the contract. If they refuse, look for a different job.

Re:Contracts are what the parties involve agree on (4, Insightful)

savala (874118) | more than 7 years ago | (#18904825)

Don't "ask them". Do it yourself (strike out the offending lines, maybe write in a new clause: initial those changes, and have them initial them as well). By offering you a contract, they have all the power. Treat their proposed text as a starting point, and give yourself back some of that power. You already know they want to hire you: this puts you on equal footing. Use that knowledge. It's in both your interests to come to a agreement that you're both happy with, and a contract is a great tool for that purpose.

I turned this around once. (5, Funny)

marcus (1916) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905171)

I was once handed a contract with a particularly abusive set of IP stipulations. Basically I swapped out all the references to employee and employer so that it said I would own the IP of all inventions of the company whether or not they were invented while I was at work, etc. and handed it back. He didn't flinch. He just looked at me sort of funny and took out the whole paragraph.

Ended up not working for that company, but that was because I'd gotten a better offer elsewhere.

Re:Contracts are what the parties involve agree on (1)

eriklou (1027240) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905375)

The above poster is correct, both federal and state codes/laws include a clause UCC 1-308 (formerly UCC 1-207) that allows a person to reserve their rights in a contract. This can be done as previously stated by drawing a line through items you do not agree with and initialing the changes. Hope that helps.

Re:Contracts are what the parties involve agree on (3, Funny)

onion2k (203094) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905521)

No, no, no. If they refuse to remove the clause you should still accept the job, and then proceed to do what the contract states: "inform them of any ideas (related to the company or not)". Every single one. Written up in company time with a full explanation. They can have your idea for a hover toilet, or pajamas for sheep*, or a hyperdimensional toothbrush, or .. well you get the idea. Well, they do. I doubt you'd get much work done though.

The best bit is that even if they fire you for doing no real work, you can still bill them for a year afterwards. After all, a contract that requires you to work on their behalf wouldn't be fair if they didn't pay you for your time.

* This one probably exists already. Sorry boss!

mod up +FUNNY (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905553)

That's good... oh that's real good... if only that would actually work IRL.

Re:Contracts are what the parties involve agree on (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18906063)

If I were a corporate HR department, using national corporate HR databases, and some no-good two-bit just-graduated self-important POS new hire dared to think that they could make any changes to our obviously superior employment agreement...

Then I would enter them into the national corporate HR databases as a p3d0phile. If they don't want to be our slave then we'll see how they like living without a paycheck at all. Maybe we'll see how much they like eating their college degree while they're slaving away working at McDonald's or on some labor farm.

As a corporate HR officer we have a million ways to make their life miserable if they don't want to play by our rules.

Who the heck do you think you are anyway?

Re:Contracts are what the parties involve agree on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18907013)

W T F are you talking about.

Re:Contracts are what the parties involve agree on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18911879)

Your credibility is only enhanced by your /. username.

Yes. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18904743)

Carefully strike through the offending lines, initial them, and hand the contract like that back to the company. Now the ball is in their court. They can see what they (their lawyers) were asking is unreasonable, and initial the changes as well, or they can get back to you. Then negotiation starts. But whatever you do, don't just blithely sign it and think "oh, that'd never be a problem anyway". The very purpose of contracts existing is to make certain that things won't become problems.

Also consult California law. (5, Informative)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905013)


(a) Any provision in an employment agreement which provides that an employee
shall assign, or offer to assign, any of employee's rights in an invention to employee's employer shall
not apply to an invention that the employee developed entirely on employee's own time without
using the employer's equipment, supplies, facilities, or trade secret information except for those
inventions that either:

(1) Relate at the time of conception or reduction to practice of the invention to
the employer's business, or actual or demonstrably anticipated research or development of the
employer; or
(2) Result from any work performed by the employee for the employer.

(b) To the extent a provision in an employment agreement purports to require an
employee to assign an invention otherwise excluded from being required to be assigned under
subdivision (a), the provision is against the public policy of this state and is unenforceable.

Re:Also consult California law. (4, Informative)

Matt Perry (793115) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905301)

Thanks, but in the future please provide a link to the official source. Here's the relevant text from the California legislative information web site [] . There's a bit more text than what you've posted. This is from the CA labor code [] .

Re:Also consult California law. (1)

nazsco (695026) | more than 7 years ago | (#18907605)

> Thanks, but in the future please provide a link to the official source.

So, you can only read hyper-links nowadays?

Re:Also consult California law. (2, Informative)

Matt Perry (793115) | more than 7 years ago | (#18907969)

So, you can only read hyper-links nowadays?
I can read text just fine but that doesn't mean that the text I'm reading is accurate or complete. Searching for "california labor code section 2870" returns a lot of results with the link to the official text several results from the top. A lot of the pages in the top of the results only show part of the section in question or paraphrase it. Although it's great that FooAtWFU's comment is getting modded up a citation would have helped an interested party to investigate further. Since Slashdot's comments are archived it's likely that this article will come up in someone's search results in the future. It would be best to give them as complete a picture as possible so they don't submit the same question to Slashdot in the future looking for more information.

If FooAtWFU doesn't like my advice he's free to ignore it.

Re:Also consult California law. (1)

orasio (188021) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912825)

Although it's great that FooAtWFU's comment is getting modded up a citation would have helped an interested party to investigate further. Since Slashdot's comments are archived it's likely that this article will come up in someone's search results in the future. It would be best to give them as complete a picture as possible so they don't submit the same question to Slashdot in the future looking for more information.

If FooAtWFU doesn't like my advice he's free to ignore it.
But his citation _is_ better than yours. specially
Provided that the discussion is archived, "CALIFORNIA LABOR CODE SECTION 2870" is much better than an hyperlink, because websites, and domains change at a faster rate than law.

Re:Yes. (2, Funny)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905135)

I also suggest BOFH method: "No, mine was sent as an electronic document, so I just cut out the clauses I didn't like, added a couple of my own, printed two copies and signed them. Then your guy signed them too - probably without checking. Or maybe he liked the idea of clause F.3 that I'm allowed to call Managers... 'knobface'." episode_24/ []

Re:Yes. (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905395)

If a company is confident enough to begin the employer-employee relationship with such a draconian employment contract then what could possibly lead you to think that they will accept any amendment of that document?

I tried amending the document with my first employer. The HR rep looked at me, laughed, and said,"Oh, that's our standard contract. You can't make any changes. Everyone has to sign it." This was, of course, on the first day of the job--after relocating and moving into the new apartment.

Re:Yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18905755)

I can't stand that I feel this way, but you are so damn whacked out that when I agree with something you said or find it insightful, I have to question whether or not I'm crazy. Can't you stick to wild rants about your desire for socialism and some weird form of equality where you always come out on top, please?

Re:Yes. (3, Insightful)

xero314 (722674) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905867)

This was, of course, on the first day of the job--after relocating and moving into the new apartment.
I always ask to see the employment contracts before accepting an offer, and everyone else should as well. This has saved me from working for a couple companies who had contracts I didn't agree with. I even had one company change their mind on an offer because I asked to see the document I was agreeing too (there was a line in an agreement that said I agreed to some other document and they would not show me the other document). You can make changes to the agreement as other people suggested, but these agreements are usually reflections on how the company operates and if you don't like there agreements you probably won't like the company.
  • DO NOT give up the rights to what you do on your own time, unless it is in direct conflict with your duties or uses proprietary information you received in the course of your duties.
  • DO NOT agree to arbitration and losing your legal rights.
  • DO NOT agree to any terms that will effect you after the employer has stopped compensating you for your time.

Re:Yes. (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905907)

You've never had to face the option of becoming homeless to stand up for your pretty rhetoric.

Try coming down from your mountain and then we'll see how tough you talk.

Re:Yes. (2, Interesting)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 7 years ago | (#18907443)

You've never had to face the option of becoming homeless to stand up for your pretty rhetoric.

It's not just "pretty rhetoric" when you're talking about an agreement that can legally bind you to something that could cost you a *lot* of money and remove any real legal recourse. I truly mean no offense or disrespect, but it's foolish to relocate for a job without knowing exactly what the terms of the contract are - I've known plenty of H1B's that have gotten snared by that, incidentally. If a potential employer doesn't want to be completely transparent in regards to the legal agreements beforehand or if they have unreasonable demands in the contract that they won't budge on, I don't contemplate working for that employer any longer. That's not being up on a mountaintop - it's just common sense and having enough respect for yourself and your abilities to not sell yourself short.

I've had to go to the mat regarding contract changes, and been told the same thing you were - "it's a company-wide contract, no exceptions". If they really want you, they'll change the document. If not, there's no shame in temporarily adjusting your standard of living and working a temp job in a warehouse or something until you find something acceptable.

Re:Yes. (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912785)

Real HR departments trash your reputation if you won't submit to their every demand. Don't look for a defamation, libel, or slander lawsuit though--it's all kept under the table and disguised in various color coded database fields.

The original assertion still stands: You've never had to face homelessness to stand up for your pretty rhetoric.

Re:Yes. (1)

Wolfrider (856) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912985)

I call bullshit. You can have a friend call up a former employer to test their HR system for defamation, etc. Record the conversation. If they trash your rep over the phone, you can sue the hell out of them.

Employers are not allowed to give out potentially character-damaging info; they can only confirm period (dates) of employment.

Re:Yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18913071)

Baiting an argument on the internet is like the special olympics. Even if you win you're still a retard.

A six year old could defeat your proposed investigative technique. If you seriously believe that "a friend" is going to dupe a corporate HR department then you might be eligible as the world's most saucer-eyed chump.

Re:Yes. (1)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 7 years ago | (#18931125)

Actually, they can give out any true facts, barring a confidentiality agreement. What they can't give out is opinions. Most HR departments have a policy in place to only give out employment dates because that is "safe", but many go farther. In the sales business I have encountered HR depts that will disclose performance information and such.

Re:Yes. (1)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 7 years ago | (#18931033)

Assuming you live in a state with a small claims court, you would almost certainly be eligible for reimbursement for the relocation (I will assume you only spend a few thousand dollars) if you didn't get to see the contract after being given the job and before moving, particularly if any of the clauses in question were "unconscionable" in the judge's opinion (which this sort almost always are).

It's not so simple (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905565)

First of all, no, you certainly shouldn't sign a contract explicitly giving your rights to your employer if you're not happy with that — and why would you be, if they're not paying you compensation for them?

But just striking through the text and sending it back is naive. The default position on intellectual property in employer-employee relationships differs significantly with jurisdiction. In the absence of an explicit agreement, they can argue things about salary and not having fixed working hours, and you can argue that their claim is unreasonable, but these things are probably going to get decided in court. In some places, I understand that such a contractual clause is explicitly unenforceable now regardless of what the employment contract says.

Bottom line: it's always best to have a contract that clearly states who gets the rights to things. For example, mine says they get the IP only for things I do on company time, using company resources, or connected with my employment. I'm not happy about the latter term, because it is too vague: I don't expect them to let me rewrite the product I'm paid to work on for them on my own time and then sell it, but neither do I think they should have even a questionable claim to any unrelated application I develop just because it happens to be software written in the same programming language. But at least get something explicit in the contract that you can argue your way.

Oh, and Slashdot is a stupid place to get legal advice. Consult a real lawyer, or at least a reputable organisation that will know the law in your jurisdiction and offer you impartial advice. For all I know, the above is completely misleading where you are, and you'd be an idiot to listen to me.

Re:Yes. (1)

mkbosmans (1091203) | more than 7 years ago | (#18910205)

Be careful though with the striking trough. It can get you in a lot of trouble [] [TheDailyWTF]

Re:Yes. (1)

Kuvter (882697) | more than 7 years ago | (#18910235)

I was going to say make your own version, submit it, and see if they accept it. However a strike through on their version saves you time and I think is more of a statement about their policy than making your own.

Sounds normal to me. (1, Interesting)

LordNimon (85072) | more than 7 years ago | (#18904797)

which claimed ownership of any ideas I create (on my own time or at the company) during my stay at the company and required me to inform them of any ideas (related to the company or not) during my employment and for a year afterwards.

Well, the "one year afterwards part" is a bit odd, but the rest looks like any normal employee agreement for a software job. I would just try to get that "one year afterwards" thing removed.

Re:Sounds normal to me. (1)

Undertaker43017 (586306) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905091)

It could also be construed as restricting where he could work in the future if a future employer has a similar contract, he couldn't/shouldn't sign the new employers contract since it conflicts with his agreement in the previous contract. Which means he could be out of work for year while he waits for the first contract to expire.

Re:Sounds normal to me. (1)

the_womble (580291) | more than 7 years ago | (#18937433)

It also is the real killer for this contract.

A new employer is certain to have confidentiality clauses that prevent him from telling people about ideas related to his new job.

There is no way I would sign this, unless they agree to compensate him for the year before he can take another job. Even in then I would be reluctant.

Re:Sounds normal to me. (3, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905113)

No its not. ANything done on company time and/or with company resources is normal. Things closely relating to the company done on off hours is normal (for example, writing a plugin for a piece of software your company makes). Off hours work not relating to company buisness belonging to the company is *NOT* normal. NEVER sign a contract like that.

As an aside- I don't think such a contract is legal in California, the state actually has worker protection laws for stuff like this.

Re:Sounds normal to me. (1)

brunascle (994197) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905217)

i think you missed the on my own time or at the company part. that means no personal websites, no free software, no art... nothing. everything you make belongs to your employer.

Re:Sounds normal to me. (1)

radarjd (931774) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905311)

Well, the "one year afterwards part" is a bit odd, but the rest looks like any normal employee agreement for a software job. I would just try to get that "one year afterwards" thing removed.

The requirement to inform your employer of patents for one year afterwards can protect both you and them. For example, let's say you file for a patent six months after you left work. You didn't do any of the work for it during your tenure at the company but it does relate to something the company does. Three or four years later the patent is granted, and some time after that the company becomes aware. They're going to claim that you violated your agreement, whereas if you informed them at the time, they can confirm you aren't in violation and that you own it. They could also challenge it immediately, but you're more likely to have evidence of when exactly you created the invention at the time, and you haven't sunk tens of thousands of dollars into the patent process yet.

In any case, it doesn't seem that onerous to me. The provision that anything you invent on your own time is theirs regardless of whether it relates to your work or not seems onerous, but that's a different topic...

Re:Sounds normal to me. (1)

bahwi (43111) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905399)

Scratch the whole thing out, if they won't, ask to have their lawyer put in that you'll get paid full salary until that clause (and any further ones) expire. If they don't like it, they should be more willing to take out the whole thing. If not, then it's a bad job unless you are willing to accept that, and yes, it does limit new jobs, very much so. So it better be enough money to accept that job.

Contact an attorney (2, Interesting)

un.sined (946837) | more than 7 years ago | (#18904805)

Most contracts have language in them that is completely unenforceable. For instance, many companies have non-compete agreements, which in some states are invalid. Others claim ownership of ideas and products, even when created outside of company time, without usage of the company's resources and not even related to the company's business.

Your best bet is to contact an attorney and have the attorney review it and suggest changes. Many people don't realize that they can negotiate contracts, and that they're not just limited to negotiations on the blank spaces. The worst thing that can happen is that you'll have to keep looking for work.

Scratch it out. (2, Interesting)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 7 years ago | (#18904821)

Just scratch it out before signing and when you turn it in, say, "Hey, fyi, I scratched out these lines. Please tell me if that's a problem or we need to discuss it further." Nine times out of ten its a form contract and an item on a checklist. The employer doesn't care that you scratched out the lines. Did he sign the contract? Check. Next?

The tenth time you'll have to choose whether or not to walk away. As someone who has walked away, let me tell you: its a tough choice. Its also the right choice. There are plenty of jobs for a smart developer and plenty of companies who won't try to walk over you that way.

Evan Brown (3, Informative)

eric76 (679787) | more than 7 years ago | (#18904829)

Evan Brown [] ran into this problem.

He lost his job and spent quite a while in court fighting it.

His contract used the word "inventions" instead of "idea" but they interpreted "invention" to include just about anything.

Re:Evan Brown (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905479)

That story was linked here when it happened. (I remember the nerd in the cowboy hat.) My recollection was that the employer's version of events was very different from his and that the judge agreed with the employer. Brown's writing doesn't exactly dispel the perception that he's a nut.

That said, the lesson is still worth learning. If you're not asking for anything unreasonable, don't be shy about adding it to the contract, and certainly don't sign anything you're uncomfortable with.

Re:Evan Brown (1)

eric76 (679787) | more than 7 years ago | (#18907697)

I probably first met Evan in about 1973 or 1974 and used to see him around regulary until about 1980.

He's no nut.

Probably unenforceable anyway (1)

mantm (1093813) | more than 7 years ago | (#18904877)

You should regard ideas you come up with at work and related to your work as their property, since they paid you. Anything else is yours alone. But at the end of the day I won't worry too much about it - these types of contract terms have ruled unenforceable time and again by the courts. And pin-pointing the actual genius of an idea (the burden would be on the plaintiff) would probably be extremely difficult.

Re:Probably unenforceable anyway (2, Informative)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905317)

> these types of contract terms have ruled unenforceable time and again by the courts

This is said frequently. But I'm yet to see any kind of confirmation.

Re:Probably unenforceable anyway (1)

bahwi (43111) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905551)

Noncompetes are typically ruled to be only partially enforceable is what they mean. This is slashdot, I'm surprised it hasn't been taken to the extreme context of "you'll get $100,000 if you quit then sue". IP rights are typically enforceable from what I've read and seen. I've also found companies are very willing to negotiate.

Like the man says: "Be afraid, be VERY afraid." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18904903)

What possible "right" would an employer have to anything you did on your own time unless they either a) don't believe there is any such thing as "your own time" or b) believe, when hiring someone, they have in fact purchased a slave (yes, that is just another form of "a)"!) Avoid such a "contract" as you would avoid the plague; there may not be plenty of jobs available, but there are other jobs available.

posting AC for obvious reasons.

Define "working" (1)

mandelbr0t (1015855) | more than 7 years ago | (#18904929)

Unless you've got a really weird contract where you work 24x7 and you're simply not allowed to have independent ideas at all, the advice I was given about a similar clause should apply: if you have an idea that you don't want to include in your contract, do not develop it at work in any way. Write it down on a PDA. Develop the software at home. Do everything you can to avoid thinking about it at work, because if you're being paid, it's their idea.

It's probably not as enforceable as the really ominous wording, but the thing I was most concerned about was the company commercializing anything that I may have GPLed while I was employed there. It's much more effective to have a non-compete clause if they're worried about you going to a competitor. That makes even talking to competitors suspicious activity while owning your code only prevents you from making them a gift of that code. Lastly, I guess this clause allows them to develop your code further without paying royalties after you've left.

Not really* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18904955)

I can't say I've run into this myself.

*by responding to this or any related comments you hereby transfer ownership of all text, assets, ideas, and rights therein to Anonymous Coward. All replies to such comments also fall under the above. Violation of these terms in punishable by fines up to one BILLION dollars.

Re:Not really* (1)

Applekid (993327) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905065)

If you now own the ideas contained in this reply, let me make the following yours:

You know, Hitler might have been right about a few things.

Enjoy your new idea! ;)

Yes (1)

aldheorte (162967) | more than 7 years ago | (#18904957)

Yes, this is something with which to be concerned. This is the intellectual property clause. Although, fairly standard, never accept a contract that does not limit the scope of owned property by the employing party to only code or documentation created on their time and/or their machines and/or their network. Anything else you think of or do is your own and they not need to be notified.

Since they clearly want you, make them change that. You have power now. When you sign, you give it up.

Also, make sure to check out the non-compete clause. With an intellectual property clause like that you are probably dealing with some contract dickheads, though they might just have copied it from somewhere else.

It could be (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18904983)

Legal documents are rarely, if ever, used the way they were originally advertised. Look to coverage of DMCA and Patriot enforcement for prime examples.

The contract that you describe is common practice in most professional industries. I've received the impression that this hasn't been the case in computer science until recently. It is only going to become worse. These documents are part of the "it's my way or the highway" approach that corporations use to strong-arm prospective employees--there's no secret that you need the paycheck to pay bills more than the company needs your particular expertise.

If your salary is acceptable to you, if the position at which you'll be entering the company, and if the perks and benefits of the corporate environment are acceptable to you then your contract will have little effect on your day to day operations. If you're just coming out of college with a load of debt, if your rent is looking like it's going to be about 1/3 of your take home salary, and if you have any desire to ascend ranks within the company or to pursue your own ideas for profit then that piece of paper will be a make-or-break deal for your career.

Primarily a contract such as the one you've described is used to keep incoming employees "in their place" by having a full litany of heavy handed positions which the company can point to and say that you've legally acquiesced to in the event there is ever a disagreement between you and a higher ranking official within the company. Also, should you just happen to stumble upon the Holy Grail of nuclear fusion which simultaneously solves all network security exploits, buffer overflows, cures cancer, and makes coffee in the morning on time... the company will own that as well. If you come into the company at the executive level you may have a chance of being a priveleged recipient of a spin-off but if you're coming in at the level of a new hire then expect to gain nothing from your brilliant design.

Personally, after my experience in corporate America, I will never sign another one of those "we own you, everything you do, and everything you could possibly think of" contracts again unless the guaranteed salary is so sweet that going to work will feel like another day at the library.

Some other comments... (3, Informative)

kiwimate (458274) | more than 7 years ago | (#18904993)

Also check out [] previous [] Ask Slashdot [] articles [] . No, not identical to what you're asking, but still some good points.

Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18905015)

Yes, it is a problem. If you come up with that million dollar idea -- they get the million. You get squat.
If you come up with the next best thing to sliced bread and try to open source it -- you could find yourself paying off attorneys...
My biggest hangup with my current contract? Drug testing. It's not like I'm programming medical equipment - it's accounting databases, et al.
Some of the BEST code I've ever done was done with a little inspiration and a bag of weed. Oh well, this companies loss (me sober :).

Re:Yes (1)

jrsumm (466914) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905775)

Yeah, I've turned jobs down due to drug testing. I don't even use drugs... I think the last time I even took Tylenol was 5 years ago. I just won't pee in a cup.

466914 (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18906203)

So how long ago was an account with a UID <500k created?

Re:466914 (1)

kkreamer (27852) | more than 7 years ago | (#18908147)

Not really that long ago.

Re:466914 (1)

Wolfrider (856) | more than 7 years ago | (#18913017)

What u say?

Re:Yes (1)

DDLKermit007 (911046) | more than 7 years ago | (#18906739)

Thats something else entirely, but I completely agree with (rarely even touch Advil myself). Drug testing is just a demeaning thing employers do. Most entertaining thing I've ever heard though is drug testing people in the art department. I about shit myself laughing.

Re:Drug test THEM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18908907)

I think you need to add a clause that says every time you get drug tested EVERY supervisor in your chain of command up to the CEO must also get tested at the same time, and if they deign to skip it, you can too.

RUN! (1)

Drexus (826859) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905085)

This sort of tactic ensures that the company will own sole rights to everything you create or don't create. If the idea is there, then they own it. Essentially, anything you make that represents you as a creative programer will be owned by them. They love this - especially if you are a seasoned programmer with years full of tricks and tools that you keep by your side. It's a method of extracting everything that you are and giving it to them for the privilege of a paycheque. We have this same problem with design contracts. Offer them a multi million dollar proposal in response, as they are asking for your life's work for a song. Once they have what they want, you're gone with absolutely no hope to get another job on the planet. They will own you.

Yes and no. (2, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905197)

No, it's not "something to worry about", in the sense of looking out for it. There's just no point. Almost all contracts and employment agreements will have such a clause. There's also usually the authority to terminate employment for no reason, which is a great get-out clause for companies that want to violate employment laws. In fact, typical employment contracts give you no rights, no protections and no stability. Your bosses can do what they like and there is nothing you can do about it, even when the law technically says otherwise. There is just no point worrying about conditions you will simply have to accept if you want to continue eating.

Yes, it's something to worry about, in the sense that nobody has any incentive to invent. The employees won't see a dime, if their bright ideas have to be handed over without question. Companies have no incentive, because they should be able to get just as good results for free. Besides, if they ask their new hires to innovate, the new hires will have to give all this neat new stuff to their former boss, not them. R&D has no value, when it is in nobody's interest to carry it out. In their pursuit of instant gratification and the "now" money, the people with business degrees are killing off the people with real knowledge. There is no long-term future for such a mindset. It consumes but never produces. In the end, it will starve itself and all around it to death. Those just graduating damn well should worry that there is a serious danger of there being no long-term future. Not just for a job, but for whole industries.

Re:Yes and no. (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905337)

Extremely well put.

My personal addition is this: I agree with your statements and, rather than just stating them, I've followed through on them. I'm homeless because "The Man" doesn't like it when an employee demands proper share. In fact, "The Man" becomes downright vindictive--and not just on a three month or one job scale. "The Man" will work to ensure that your reputation is trashed and that you're carefully strung out (harassed, harangued, hounded, and frustrated) until you crack slowly in ways that will leave as big a trail of red ink as possible. "The Man" will go the extra mile to ensure that the employee who breaks free of the automaton training is forever banished from any professional career.

So, now that the idea is confirmed, now what?

Possible answer. (1)

jd (1658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18906389)

At many key points in history, refugees from the "old system" founded their own, alternative system, from the communities through to the industries needed to maintain them. At one extreme, Cambridge University and the city of Cambridge were founded by students who had escaped being murdered in Oxford by a lynch mob bent on street justice. At the other extreme, the Amish escaped psychotic religious extremism in Europe, fled to the US, and have virtually isolated themselves in their communities - what they need, they provide.

(You have to exclude any commune, settlement or system that depends so much on the system it tries to escape from that the escape is merely an illusion. Interdependence is fine and perfectly respectable, and probably necessary for most such efforts, but it should never be permitted to slip into codependency - which has been the fate of many attempts.)

I'm not proposing that dissatisfied Slashdot geeks get together and build a self-sufficient University-City that can provide its own food, clothing, housing, power, books, etc. The task is not impossible, but the odds of Slashdot having enough sufficiently dissatisfied people with a sufficiently-broad range of skills over a sufficiently small distance to get them together.... It's not going to happen in my lifetime.

Ultimately, the majority of people most desiring of change have no voice and little money. If you expect drastic change to happen, it cannot require what these people don't have. Ergo, if you want change, it must be from the absolute ground up, to the point where the homeless and dispossessed can be valuable, and where there is little or nothing you could need that can't be provided in-house rather than being bought.

Many people have tried to found just such communal enterprises, but most have failed because it's not just not easy, it is unimaginably tough to start and never gets better than phenomenally hard, even after it is not just self-sufficient in all things but capable of "exporting" to the rest of society. Even the organization of such a community system is outside most people's ability, which is why you see most attempting to use charismatic leaders to hold things together, rather than people who know what they're doing. And which is why such communes usually end up in a bad way, or worse.

These problems are very very hard, but they are not unsolvable. If they were, nobody could ever have formed a civilized community in the first place. If you are sick and tired enough to clear the obstacles, solve the problems and keep things together, then nothing is stopping you starting your own civilization. But it really is at that level.

Re:Yes and no. (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 7 years ago | (#18909541)

I'm homeless because "The Man" doesn't like it when an employee demands proper share.

Then don't work for "The Man". Look for smaller companies, or even bigger companies with a more rational approach. Or work for yourself, even if that means changing fields.

I figure I'm not going to last long at a job working for "The Man" anyway, so I might as well turn down a job that asks me to sign away my dignity before I even start.

The last time I encountered one of these clauses was for a contract position at IBM. The contracting company's startard contract would basically have had IBM own all my creations; when I pointed out that according to the contract as written, IBM would own any poems I wrote (on my own time) and that seemed pretty silly, we agreed to strike that provision.

The only time I have signed one of these was at my first job; a year or so after I started there, the company made a partnership with a larger one demanded all employees sign IP agreements. If I knew then what I know now I would have fought harder, walked if necessary.

Go ahead (2, Funny)

ATestR (1060586) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905253)

Sure, go ahead and sign their contact. Then, be sure to weekly advise your new employer about a great new idea you have for [[anti-gravity device],[perpetual motion machine],[modern day Kama Sutra], ...].

California law (2, Informative)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905325)

If it's a California-based company, the relevant law is California Labor Code 2870-2872 [] . Those sections put limits on the extent to which that IP agreement is legal. Any attempt by the agreement to exceed those limits is illegal and void as a matter of law according to 2870(b). The employer is also required to give you, in writing per 2872, a notice that any language in the agreement does not apply to inventions which meet 2870's criteria.

California Business and Professional Code section 16600 [] is also relevant to the oh-so-common non-compete clauses.

Note that California's position is that, since these are law, the fact that an employee agreed to them does not provide an out for the employer. Just to be safe, however, when I had to sign those papers I wrote in a term saying that the agreement was subject to the limitations of those two laws before I signed.

Re:California law (3, Interesting)

queequeg1 (180099) | more than 7 years ago | (#18906117)

Before relying on this CA Code section (which, by the way, is pretty awesome for your purposes if it applies), you should check the contract for a governing law provision. Typically near the end of the contract with a bunch of other boilerplate provisions, the governing law provision might specify a state other than CA (especially if the employer is a larger national company with central headquarters located in a different state). If the contract specifies a different state, the employer may use an enforcement strategy that could possibly negate the benefits offered by this code section. Specifically, the employer could bring a claim in the courts of that other state, get a judgment, and then have the judgment enforced in CA (based on the full faith and credit provisions of the US Constitution). I don't believe this issue has been tested in court yet. If you become the test case, you've already lost (because the issue will cost huge dollars to litigate).

If there is no governing law provision in the contract, the foregoing problem still may potentially exist, although you would have a good argument that CA law should govern the contract since that is where you live, work, and where the company's local office is. Further, if the company is headquartered in CA, in the absence of a governing law provision, I don't see how they could argue that the laws of another state apply.

Re:California law (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 7 years ago | (#18913205)

California's position, unfortunately for the company, is that if the position is in California then California law applies. I believe the logic is that, since this is an issue of law applying to everyone working in California, the governing-law clause simply isn't relevant. I believe your case has happened before, and the CA courts simply ruled that, since the judgement has no basis in law, it can't be enforced in CA. It can, however, cause you problems if you want to go to work outside CA later.

Standard HR practice... (1)

B5_geek (638928) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905559)

I have been given these 'contracts' at the last three jobs that I have accepted, and on all three I print next to my signature:

Signed under duress.

This has only been questioned once and that one time it was allowed after I explained that (a) it was unconstitutional because the company was not paying me a specific retainer, and therefore didn't "own" my thoughts; (b) I promised to not to work on anything that could be considered a competing product; and (c) if they didn't accept it as a condition of my employment then give me a cheque right now for my time, because if I spend any additional time there then their acceptance of my terms of the contract indicated acceptance of my conditions.

Most of the time it's a standard form that the HR drones don't know anything about, or even care about. All they want is a signature because that is what gets put in their folder.

Comment to expect on your payslip (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#18906479)

Paid under duress.

Re:Comment to expect on your payslip (1)

SomeGuyFromCA (197979) | more than 7 years ago | (#18909865)

If he can cash the check, who cares?

I WOULDN'T KNOW... (2, Insightful)

bratwiz (635601) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905629)

I wouldn't know. I don't sign contracts that contain that type of language, except in very specific instances such as being hired to develop something VERY SPECIFICALLY spelled-out. I won't sign anything that says "anything I ever think up or do ever in my life while employed by FUCKWAD INC or not is FUCKWAD INC's property." Anytime an employer tries to stick that type of language in front of me, I either cross it out, re-write the contract, or walk out the door.

What I don't get are pussies who go ahead and sign it.

Don't you have any backbone?? Where are your balls???

(Apologies to folks who actually don't have balls)

Working is a TWO-WAY street. The company needs YOU a lot more than you need the company. But they've brainwashed you (us) into thinking its the other way around. If a company can't hire talent (people who can do things the company can then sell)-- where does that leave the company?

Sure you think, "They'll just find somebody else". And yes, you're probably right-- someone SPINELESS, without BALLS no doubt.

But if everybody with talent just said "NO". I GUARANTEE there would be panic on the 57th floor of every FUCKWAD INC company, everywhere. If you (we) ever really WISED UP and realized that we are FAR STRONGER as a collective than they are as a BAD-ASS MONOPOLY-- there would be a huge reckoning fixin to happen and a new deal to negotiate.

Companies say things like "Well, that's our policy"

FUCK THAT. Policies are words on paper. They're not LAWS. They're not morally GOOD or WRONG. They're just a memo that some pin-headed HR manager cranked out on a Tuesday afternoon in between blowing her boss under the table (or maybe it was his boss) and sucking up. They parade them around like Moses himself brought them down off the mountain-- but they only have POWER if you ALLOW THEM to have power.

YOU (and I) can have policies too. You can deliver them like they're made out of stone too if you want. Try it sometimes, its kind of fun.

Of course, its all about negotiation and who wants what more-- brinksmanship. Whoever blinks first tends to win. You say "I'll do this and that but not these other things". The company says "Its our policy that employees will ya ya ya". You say "Its not MY policy" and tell 'em how many ways they can fold it and where they can stuff it... with FEELING.

Working, no matter how menially, is a CONTRACT between you and your employer. Even working at McDonalds you have collective power if you only choose to use it. If enough people said "We're tired of working for pitiful wages and doing all your lacky work for nothing", McDonalds would have no choice but to work to find other labor-- and if it wasn't available-- they would have to capitulate.

Think about it another way-- next time you go in for a job interview-- hand them a list of "POLICIES"... they'll probably spill their coffee when they get to the one "Everything they've ever invented, dreamed up or thought about, past, present or future, whether you were in the premises or otherwise, now belongs TO YOU".

What an ARROGANT, EGOCENTRIC, TOTAL ASSHOLE thing to demand. They won't like it anymore than you like it. THEY won't sign it, and neither should you.

There are REASONABLE demands that you can choose to agree to (if you want)-- non-disclosure, non-competition-- both for a LIMITED period of time, and in LIMITED contexts-- maybe agreeing not to go work for a competitor withing a REASONABLE period of time. But you can demand stuff too-- like a GOOD WORKING ENVIRONMENT, Access to all of the TOOLS and MATERIALS you need to do your job. A guarantee that some PRICK MANAGER won't try to jump down your shit while you're trying to get stuff done. Solid REQUIREMENTS and REASONABLE DEADLINES. A good vacations and mental days.

They want shit-- you want shit. You look over their terms and say "That's okay, that's not". They'll look over yours and say the same thing. When you're done, if there's a deal on the table you can both live with, then there you go-- you sign it and go to work. If not, fuck 'em, there's lots of other fish in the sea.

Look around. The people making money in this world are the people with BACKBONES and BALLS. The spineless pussies are the ones who won't stand up for themselves and say what they really want and just sit there and take it. They don't want the responsibility for thinking for themselves. They want someone else to tell them what to think, what to wear, where to sit, and what to do. If that describes YOU-- then you get what you deserve. The COOL, ELITE folks are busy out there negotiating good employment deals and getting things done-- and taking home good salaries, options, bonuses, benefits, stock options, and all the other things-- while you're sitting there, reading slashdot hoping you won't get caught-- and WISHING you had some balls.

So really, its up to you. Its your world, just as its mine. And its up to each one of us to make of it what we will. If you're WILLING to wear the YOKE of some other MASTER-- its YOUR choice. If you've got the MOXIE to stand up and control your own destiny-- you can BE the MASTER. In the end, on your last day, when you're lying there in some bed-- all alone-- because we all die alone ultimately-- its just YOU (or me) in your head-- you can think back on your life and think "Man, I did it. I lived the life I wanted to live".... or you can simply expire with dispair-- your final thoughts are "I wish I could have been more".

Its YOUR choice.


/dev/trash (182850) | more than 7 years ago | (#18906433)

I'm going to print this out and mail it to my mortgage company.


Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18906947)

BITTER much?


bratwiz (635601) | more than 7 years ago | (#18913433)

Nah, rarely in fact.

I get all my ya ya's out on Slashdot. I feel fine.


MooseTick (895855) | more than 7 years ago | (#18928791)

"What I don't get are pussies who go ahead and sign it."

I think you get it, you just don't like it. People like you hate the fact that so many people will go ahead and sign such a document believing that it won't likely matter. And you know what? Most of the time it doesn't matter. Most people sign such documents, get hired, do their job, and eventually quit and the whole matter NEVER comes into question. Sure, they may have the best idea ever, but 99% of people just do their job and go home.

While it may be true that the "people making money in this world are the people with BACKBONES and BALLS", most people happily take the path of least resistance. They don't want problems and aren't realistically looking to be masters of the universe. Those people screw you up because they will sign such a document and that that makes it hard or even impossible for you to find work at major companies without bending.

Contact a lawyer (1)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905657)

I was in a vaguely similar circumstance once. $300 for a lawyer's opinion was well worth it.

negotiate (1)

Tsiangkun (746511) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905675)

Contracts are changeable.

Since when you aren't on the clock, they still get your ideas, alter the contract to include paying you some big $$$ consultant rate for ideas that happen outside of work.

ALso make sure you continue to collect a check for that year when they still own your ideas, and since you aren't working for them, bill them at your $$$ consultant rate.

Normally a company would rather cross out the items than pay for your time outside of work.

Re:negotiate (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18906311)

Normally the company will tell you,"You can't make any changes. That's the standard employee agreement. Everyone must sign it as is." If you don't want to sign it then you're free to be without a paycheck.

As an added bonus, if you express any notion of changing the contract and then you buckle, rest assured that your employment there will be hell. You will be run in circles until you're ready to pull your hair out then fired after enough instances of your resulting frustration can be documented as evidence of your psychological issues, your arrogance, your inability to function well within the team, or your complete inability to perform on the job.

If you're lucky then your HR reps may even put that little asterisk next to your name in the national HR databases which translates into,"Suspected of being a s3xual deviant, p3rvert, or possible ch1ld pr3dator."

Re:negotiate (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 7 years ago | (#18909525)

Normally the company will tell you,"You can't make any changes. That's the standard employee agreement. Everyone must sign it as is." If you don't want to sign it then you're free to be without a paycheck.

Normally I tell the company, "This is my policy. If you don't want to accept my changes you're free to be without my skills and talents."

Grow a pair, man. It's one thing if you're an unskilled lunk, but if you're a skilled professional, be assertive.

If you're lucky then your HR reps may even put that little asterisk next to your name in the national HR databases...

Just what "natioanl HR databases" are these?

You are being paranoid. Employers don't spread dirt on former or potential employees because they'd be sued into the ground if they did.

validity of agreement? (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905717)

This doesn't apply to the poster's case since he has been presented with the agreement prior to accepting the position, but in some of the cases mentioned, where the agreement was sprung on the new employee after he started the job, I wonder if it is valid at all since it was signed under duress and by imposing additional conditions on employment is a breach of the existing employment contract. Any of the lawyers (the real ones, not the ones who play a lawyer on /.) care to comment?

Re:validity of agreement? (2, Insightful)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905837)

It's a question of who has more legal representation. Sure, it's obvious that the federal government has been illegally wiretapping domestic phones for ten years or more, but they have the US Atty General to say,"No. Sorry. Everything we did was a-okay by me."

The average employee who needs a job at the level at which these sorts of agreements are handed out can't afford to hire a lawyer who would be willing to risk his professional reputation riding up against a corporate entity. The fact that it's a corporate entity alone ensures that they will have the legal support of any banks, investment brokerage houses, and insurance companies with which they do business.

In any case, even if the agreement is invalid, what reparations can the average employee hope to claim? These agreements are rarely used directly. They're used more as enforcement measures. A legal battle may curtail one or two specific points of the agreement itself but, within the workplace, the psychological atmosphere created by these agreements is far more pervasive, and damaging, than specific ownership of a few hundred lines of code.

Try telling a Vietnam POW that his imprisonment was illegal and he should've been paid for working in the rice patties. Well, no sh*t, but how is that going to make up for twenty years of being locked in a bamboo cage, in the hot sun, being fed rancid meat and constantly poked, prodded, and beaten by the prison guards?

What if you played their game? (1)

prash_n_rao (465747) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905747)

... claimed ownership of any ideas I create (on my own time or at the company) during my stay at the company and required me to inform them of any ideas (related to the company or not)...
I wonder how things would turn out if you, and others signing such contracts, start following the contracts to the letter. I wonder if such a thing is even possible. How do they define "idea"? The way you beat traffic today... is that an idea? Report it. You think a colleague of yours would look a lot prettier if she does her hair the way you have in mind... is that an idea? Report it. The dust bins in the office: you think they blue ones go better with the office decor than grey ones... is that an idea? Report it. This can so easily be taken to the extreme: once you pick up this habit, it is easy to keep coming up with random ideas, indefinitely. It is your legal duty to document (inform) all the stupid ideas you have... all day... and you can fully expect to be paid for the "job" you are doing.

What I wrote up there is driving me nuts now! What the bleep do they mean by "idea"? [A dictionary did not help much.] And what the bleep is "related to the company"? Is it "related to the company" if you have ideas about changing the brand of toilet paper at the office, because the current brand is kinda hard on the butt, and because the issue currently distracts you from work as you sit at your workstation?

If I were handed such a contract, maybe I would go back to them and and ask them to clarify this particular point. Surely, they don't expect me to sign an agreement when I fail to understand it!

Re:What if you played their game? (1)

corychristison (951993) | more than 7 years ago | (#18908507)

Oh, you have OCD [] , too?

Well, I have OCPD... which is similar but completely different. If that makes any sense.

This if I find a place with a contract like this, I'll be sure to let them know about my condition _after_ I sign it. ;-)

It's overreaching (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905869)

Those are overreaching terms. The obligation to inform the employer is normal. The "owns ideas developed on your own time" is illegal in California. The employer probably has some out of state form they're using.

That provision of California law built Silicon Valley. Anybody good who has a good idea is free to leave and do a startup. Which is what happens here all the time.

Obligations beyond the end of employment need to be considered very carefully, because they can affect your next job. For that one, you need a lawyer.

Unfair contracts (1)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18905957)

I seem to recall that even if you scratch out the comment and initial it AND have the "employer" initial it (in this case the HR rep) it might not count as an amendment. I think you need the company to redraft the contract without those clauses in it. It could very by state, etc. It also seems to me that if you ask for these changes, wether or not you get the changes, I have a sneaking suspicion the employer it going to keep track of you on-line and your business activity before, during and after your work term.

I'm not in IT but I hate the fact that even where I'm working many work contracts are getting to be so that you need a law degree in order to understand everything in it. My friends in IT find the contracts are unduly long. Fine the workplace and work are getting more complicated. But can't we just have something simpler? Why can't it be Do this, don't do this. Simple, direct, clear, brief language is what I want in a contract. If I don't understand it or there's different ways to interpret it, don't come after me because I couldn't see it that way or I couldn't afford $5k to hire a lawyer to read it over for me.

Re:Unfair contracts (1)

nuggz (69912) | more than 7 years ago | (#18906645)

A contract is just an agreement.

If we modify the contract before agreeing to it, that is the contract we agreed to.
We definately didn't agree to the pre-modification contract.

Re:Unfair contracts (1)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 7 years ago | (#18931199)

This is fun logic to apply to EULAs :) Amend them before agreeing. I always do. And sometimes when I am feeling especially bored I actually mail a copy of the amended agreement to the publisher. Sadly, I have never gotten a reply :(

Re:Unfair contracts (1)

nuggz (69912) | more than 7 years ago | (#18949501)

They haven't agreed to the amended contract, therefore there is no contract.

Re:Unfair contracts (1)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 7 years ago | (#18953419)

Which is just as acceptable of an outcome as if they had agreed.

Two approaches (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18906019)

I don't encounter this as much as I used to but there are two approaches which seem to work (depending on who you're dealing with).

Both are aimed at giving them what they're entitled to - your ideas and inventions that come from work you do for them and are related to it during the term of the contract, and keeping what they're not - everything else.

1. Large bureaucratic company.

      Very carefully scratch out words so that they keep only work related stuff, initial it, hand it back without comment. You'll never hear about it again.

2. Small/medium company

      I once explained this directly to the owner of a medium sized software consulting company I worked for once (they're still around, very well respected, and I still know the owner and our relationship is fine). I pointed out that the language in his boilerplate was far too broad:- claiming copyright over family snapshots, emails on my own private account, contributions to open source projects I dabbled in on my own time, hardware projects I undertake as a hobby, musical performances and compositions I make on the weekends in jam sessions and so on, none of which was of any possible interest to him.

      I went on to say he could have everything that was his, and was not at all interested in harming his rights to it, and had no interest in taking it from him.

      I suggested we restrict the language to inventions blah, blah "arising out of or related to the work" involved in the contract. He agreed on the spot and changed the words himself.

IANAL but I believed this is called "equity" aka fairness.

Compliance Auditing (1) (794623) | more than 7 years ago | (#18906027)

The following is a from a contract presented to me from an IT company in DC. In addition to the clause below, there were a half dozen clauses I wanted amended and another half dozen I wouldn't even consider signing. Needless to say, I didn't sign.

10. COMPLIANCE AUDITING. Recipient agrees that for a period of seven (7) years after the date of the most recent interaction/interview withe Recipient under this agreement, to allow [company] or its agents to enter all property owned, leased, used or controlled by Recipient for the purpose of ensuring that the Confidential Information is not being used in violation of this agreement, if reasonable evidence exists that such violation(s) might have occurred. Recipient agrees to provide a letter signed by Recipient indicating that [company] and its agents have the right to enter and inspect all areas owned, leased, used, or controlled by Recipient on an unannounced basis. This letter shall be delivered at or before the time this agreement is executed.

worry about it, unless you don't care (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 7 years ago | (#18906271)

There are basically a few ways you can approach this.

1) You are willing to quit and wait a year to develop any million dollar idea you have. You are willing to place a million dollar bet that any million dollar idea you come up with won't be replicated by someone else in a year's time. Make sure they can't prove you had the idea on their time. Don't commit anything to any physical media (not even pencil to paper, because they could carbon date it for a big enough idea). You are willing to perjure yourself in court. You can accept the contract.

2) You are willing to let them have your million dollar idea. You can accept the contract.

3) You are willing to alter the contract, and bet the job that they'll blink first, or maybe not even care. Alter the contract.

4) You are willing to try to negotiate it, and will bet the job that they'll be reasonable people. Negotiate the contract.

5) Decline the job. Be sure to tell them it was because of the contract.

I have gone for #3/#4 on 4 occassions now. I have won every time. My favorite strategy is to explain that I cannot agree to such a contract because of ongoing consulting work that I do for past employers, and that obviously I can't hand over anything of the past employer's to them, just as I could not for them with any future employer I might have. Therefore, I have to exclude any work done for another entity, under any other contract. I have such a contract with my wife for all of my non-work hours.

Re:worry about it, unless you don't care (1)

SomeGuyFromCA (197979) | more than 7 years ago | (#18909767)

i am not sure how serious you are, but in re: #1 - radiocarbon dating is known to be very inaccurate for less than 50 years or so (wikipedia cites an example estimate as having an error of +- 30); as well, they might be able to determine the age of the paper and pencil, but what about when the one first met the other?

Re:worry about it, unless you don't care (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 7 years ago | (#18913203)

My point was really just to imagine an opponent with essentially unlimited resources trying to prove that your idea was developed at a specific time. Anything physical, presumably other than your mind, might be used as evidence against you.

6. Write 'Don't Agree' on sig. line, hand it back. (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 7 years ago | (#18913829)

Bet they don't notice.

a trick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18909901)

Posting anon for obvious reasons...

At my current job, there was a dispute about the contract language... something about they could fire me at any time, but I had to give them three weeks' notice AND have their approval to leave.

I don't think so. Homie don play dat.

So we negotiated by email. In the end, they agreed to rewrite the language and emailed me the contract with instructions to print, sign and return.

So I printed the last page, signed a random piece of paper, scanned both in, and Photoshopped the signature onto the last page. Then I sent them that as a PNG, and they were happy.

They don't have an actual piece of paper I actually signed. This could get Fun (tm) if it ever comes into dispute...

CA Law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18910047)

You'll get a one-sheet notiication that you cannot be required to turn over IP on anything you did on your own time and own equipment. CA Law requires that you get this notification, which basically nullifies that whole language of the contract.

Corporation Approach (1)

pentalive (449155) | more than 7 years ago | (#18911583)

Ok, I may need a real lawyer here.. Do any of you who practice law also read Slashdot?

If one incorporated for purposes of employment. (I as an individual incorporate then
the corporation offers it's services).

Would the employment contract be binding on the corporation (the encorporated prospective
employee) without binding the person "working for" the corporation?

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