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Non-Compete Agreement Beyond Term of Employment?

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the long-arm-of-the-contract dept.

Businesses 778

stellar7 writes "I work in IT for a large company. They have recently asked me to sign a new non-compete and confidentiality agreement. I signed an agreement when I began employment, but now they want me to sign an updated one. Behind the link are a few paragraphs from the new agreement. It states that the company has a royalty-free license to any 'Invention' I create including up to six months after leaving (and the company fully owns any Invention that relates to the company in this same period). Has anyone signed a similar agreement that reaches beyond the end of employment and includes things not related to the business?"
A. Employee shall promptly and fully disclose in writing to [Company] any inventions, improvements, discoveries, operating techniques, or "know-how", whether patentable or not (hereinafter referred to as "Inventions"), conceived or discovered by Employee, either solely or jointly with others, during the course of Employee's employment with [Company], or within six (6) months thereafter.

B. Employee shall, on the request of [Company], and hereby does, assign to [Company] all of Employee's right, title and interest in any of the Inventions which relate to, or are useful in connection with, any aspect of the business of [Company], as carried on or contemplated at the time the Invention is made, whether or not Employee's duties are directly related thereto. [Company] shall be the sole and absolute owner of any of the Inventions so assigned. Employee shall perform any further acts or execute any papers, at the expense of [Company], which it may consider necessary to secure for [Company] or its successors or assigns any and all rights relating to the Inventions, including patents in the United States and foreign countries.

C. [Company] shall be the sole judge as to whether the Inventions are related to or useful in connection with any aspect of the business of [Company] as earned on or contemplated at the time the Invention is made and as to whether patent applications should be filed in the United States or in foreign countries.

D. [Company] shall have the option of taking a permanent, royalty-free license to manufacture, use, and sell any of the Inventions conceived or discovered by Employee during the course of Employee's employment with [Company], or within six (6) months thereafter, that are not assigned to [Company] under paragraph B. of this Agreement.

cancel ×

778 comments

Yes, I Signed One (3, Funny)

Skeetskeetskeet (906997) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319693)

When I left Microsoft I was told that I was not to divulge the secrets of Microsoft Bob or Windows ME until the year 2050. FIRST!

Re:Yes, I Signed One (2, Funny)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319903)

I was told that I was not to divulge the secrets of Microsoft Bob or Windows ME until the year 2050

Understandable.

They've distilled the usability of Bob and the stability of ME into Vista....

ask a lawyer (5, Insightful)

Trailer Trash (60756) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319695)

Seriously, ask a lawyer, not slashdot. I highly doubt a contract like that is enforceable (seriously, they own work you create for your next employer?) but I would talk to a lawyer. And I wouldn't even think of signing it.

Re:ask a lawyer (5, Interesting)

belmolis (702863) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319755)

The answer is going to vary from state-to-state and presumably from country to country. California, for example, has laws that greatly reduce the effect of non-compete agreements, but many other states do not. Furthermore, the question of whether they can insist that you sign a new agreement as a condition of continued employment will depend on whether you are in an "at will" jurisdiction or not.

Re:ask a lawyer (2, Insightful)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#21320043)

I've had such agreements placed before me before. I specifically demanded that they be removed, and that I have specific assurances to the contrary. One time I even got it.

I wouldn't sign such an agreement with anyone, personally. Money is too easy to find to justify indenturing yourself in such a way just for a job.

Re:ask a lawyer (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21319811)

You know... it's a curious thing we citizens of supposedly 'free nations' are expected to happily yield increasingly large amounts of our freedom...

Personally, I'd invite the company droog in question to shove something sharp and unpleasant into whichever part of their anatomy would cause them the most discomfort, and then work somewhere civilised.

Re:ask a lawyer (4, Interesting)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319831)

Seriously, ask a lawyer, not slashdot. I highly doubt a contract like that is enforceable (seriously, they own work you create for your next employer?) but I would talk to a lawyer. And I wouldn't even think of signing it.
A friend of mine had to sign one in order to start work at Agilent / HP. They can't really 'own' you, but because they own any ideas you come up with during your time at the company, they can screw you for any derivations on your previous work .. at least they say they can. I haven't heard of a case where this was challenged in court, but frankly, any company that wants this from an employee shouldn't have an employee. I think it was Oscar Wilde who said something like, "If this is how the Queen treats per prisoners, then she doesn't deserve to have any!".

Re:ask a lawyer (5, Informative)

stormj (1059002) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319897)

Not enforceable in California. Bus & Prof Code Section 16600.

Re:ask a lawyer (4, Funny)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319847)

And I wouldn't even think of signing it.
Good luck on your job search. Keep us updated.

Re:ask a lawyer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21320081)

If they are that domineering then fuck with them.

If it's required for continued employment, then ask them what you get that would be considered a fair value for your trade. If they state nothing, then take a copy home and do not sign it. When, later, they ask you for the signed copy, inform them that you never signed it and are not getting anything from the signing of it. They are free to fire you, however you *will* take this to the unemployment office to get full compensation as it is illegal to your employer has fired you for an outright illegal reason.

Spread the word around the office. I find mismanagement to be one of the messiest things known to mankind.

Re:ask a lawyer (5, Informative)

imp (7585) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319887)

While the answer varies from state to state, I'll quote what my lawyer told me when I took him one of these employment agreements. "Warner, never hesitate to sign a vague, badly drafted employment agreement." Basically, for my situation, the upshot was that the agreement was so vague as to what it covered that read literally one would have to tell the company everything I ever thought. New idea for a flavoring for brownies, tell the company. New sexual position to try with the wife, tell the company. Plot for a sitcom staring 13th century spanish cardinals talking about the philosophical conundrum the Islamic occupation of the Iberian peninsula presented, tell the company. Clearly, no court in its right mind would enforce such an over-reaching and broad contract.

In addition, certain states, such as California, have laws that say, as a matter of public policy, that if you do something on your own time with your own resources, you own it.

Also, since you didn't post the entire agreement, there's no way to know if there's anything else in it that might be bad, or worse than what's presented here.

However, without having both a license to practice law, or the entire text of the document in question, the above is prelude to the following non-legal advice: See a lawyer. It cost me about $300 when I needed to get a couple of different documents reviewed.

Re:ask a lawyer (1)

Wandrecanada (1187737) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319981)

If you know the history of the mouse peripheral you'll note that this is exactly what happened to the creator. Many people lose millions to this type of corporate hijinks all the time. If you can possibly avoid this DO NOT SIGN it. They can even take your royalty profits if you invent or patent an item without their financial help from your basement.

Yup. It's doable. Just be polite and reasonable. (2, Insightful)

apankrat (314147) | more than 6 years ago | (#21320133)

Yup. First, talk to a lawyer. This costs 30 min of his time, so it's not expensive.

If he confirms that this is unenforcible, propagate that to the company and see what they have to say. If it's a company with multiple offices, they may in fact be asking to sign a paper drafted for another country. In which case they may back off and come up with a revised version. I've been through this and it does in fact work.

If the lawyer says it's an OK as per local laws, ask company for a list of exemptions. Basically put together a list of current projects you are "working on" and have them attach this list. Again, be reasonable, explain the situation, and there's a good chance they will agree. Moreover, you will be talking to HR about this, and HR will be talking to legal dept. on your behalf. So do your best to win HR over first.

The trick with an exemption list, which _typically_ works, is to (a) be vague with project description (b) avoid a code escrow

If they don't get a copy of your current code tree, they won't ever be able to prove your existing version is not the one you have listed on an exemption list (excluding stupid mistakes, obviously).

Again, I personally made this sort of an arrangement with a former employer, and I know a couple of other people who did the same with other employers. It's doable. Just be polite and reasonable.

Sure (0)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319705)

I've signed all sorts of stuff like that. Never had a problem. As for the 6 months bit, it's not like you can get a patent in under 3 years.. so I don't see the point of it. Generally, leave the lawyering to the lawyers.. if they're going to sue you, they will, no matter what your contract says.

Re:Sure (1)

kaiser423 (828989) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319799)

This type of thing is fairly standard for people in creative positions. They're paying you to come up with cool, neat, innovative tech. If you come up with something really sweet, they don't want you to leave, start your own company and get rich. Don't know about IT though....guess it depends upon what your position is like.

I say sign it, it's not like something ground-breaking is going to hit you a month after you quit and that you have it perfected within the next couple. It's to keep you from getting a good idea at work and then running off with it.

Re:Sure (4, Interesting)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319921)

They're paying you to come up with cool, neat, innovative tech. If you come up with something really sweet, they don't want you to leave, start your own company and get rich.
That's one of the reasons I never offered my best ideas to my last employer. What's the point. Give them your idea and get nothing in return except for a lousy pat on the back. Meanwhile executive management profits heavily. I've seen it happen. You might as well just punch the clock and only work on your task list. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Never give up an idea unless you will own a percentage, otherwise keep them to yourself and try to implement them at home in secret, and then launch your website/product/business the minute your non-compete expires.

Re:Sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21319973)

This just in: I am now 101% convinced 99% of slashdot men have very, very, very tiny pricks.
Correction: are very, very, very tiny pricks.

Re:Sure (2, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21320029)

exactly right, and this is sadly the reason many great idea's never get to see the light of day.

it's always the employee's with everything to lose and nothing to gain that have these ideas, but don't tell their employer because they won't be rewarded for sticking their neck out and leaving and going it alone runs the risk of being sued, but also means they don't have the backing of an established company to get the idea off the ground.

profit sharing is the way of the future, just as the CEO gets a bonus when shares reach a certain level, so should employee's if big business ever wants their workers to take their shareholders seriously.

i get a production bonus in my job, which is set at REASONABLE levels. i can make up to an extra $1000 a month through this, but the average is around $500. it makes everyone i work with take the companys productivity more seriously.

Re:Sure (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 6 years ago | (#21320103)

If you're employed to do research, it isn't unreasonable for you to be required to give your ideas to the company if they are in the area you are paid to work on. If your job has nothing to do with research, or if your idea is in an area unrelated to what you do for the company, it shouldn't be any of their business.

The poster says he works in IT, which is typically not a research position. If his job is to keep their servers running, why should he give them his idea for a new video compression technique or method of making ice cream?

What's the legality of contracts, exactly? (2, Insightful)

Joelfabulous (1045392) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319709)

I'm wondering if there are any federal restrictions imposed on contract law in the States / Canada / Europe / anywhere else when it comes to inventions being the property of the company... It seems strange to me that, if you make something on your own time, it's the property of the company. That sounds kind of megalomanicial on some level.

Re:What's the legality of contracts, exactly? (2, Interesting)

lpq (583377) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319879)

It depends on the state in the US -- specifically, in techno-centric California, such non compete agreements are not only unenforceable, but are also *illegal* to put in an employment contract. What you do on your own time with your own computer is "yours" unless it substantially overlaps the major business of your company -- then the company will probably win as they'll likely have more legal and monetary resources to carry on a lengthy legal battle. :-(

Re:What's the legality of contracts, exactly? (1)

vokyvsd (979677) | more than 6 years ago | (#21320019)

Not only that, but post-employment non-compete terms are also generally unenforceable in California and a few other states. Legislators generally don't notice or care about such fine points as this, and most of the states that make non-competes unenforceable did so simply because, way back when the laws were being put on the books, the guy writing that particular law didn't like the idea of non-competes, and the legislature just goes along out of ignorance rather than understanding. Michigan actually changed, back in the 80s, from having unenforceable non-competes to having non-competes be enforceable without any restrictions. Turns out they made that change completely by accident, making an amendment that wiped out a section they wanted to get rid of - and inadvertently getting rid of the "no non-competes" section. A year or two later they figured out what they had done and put some sane restrictions on non-competes, but didn't make them completely unenforceable like it had been.

Some business/econ academics are trying to sift through the data from the patent office to see if it has had any effect on Michigan's innovation output. They hypothesize that one of the reasons for the Silicon Valley boom was that unenforceable non-competes made it very easy to talented people to move from company to company as their products remained interesting or profitable, and that Michigan is a perfect guinea pig to test this. I heard a lecture about it a couple of months ago, at which point their analysis of the Michigan data was inconclusive. Apparently patent office records don't give you a whole lot to go on.

Re:What's the legality of contracts, exactly? (4, Interesting)

Ziest (143204) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319901)

The 9th circuit court (California, Oregon, Washington, etc.) has ruled these sort of agreements as void. They are deemed to be prior restraint and hence the agreement is unenforceable. Outside of the 9th? Unknown. Either way talk to a lawer. Most likely her/she will laugh at this agreement. However, what ever work you do on your own time, make sure you do not do it on company time or equipment.

 

Take it home. (4, Insightful)

Silverlancer (786390) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319715)

Take it home.

Cross out the parts you think are ridiculous.

Sign it.

Return it.

Re:Take it home. (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319743)

That's not going to fly if they require it signed to remain employed..

Re:Take it home. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21319853)

Unless the employee in question is a bottom-rung code monkey, it costs money to replace him. Reasonable people will back down if you reject a clause that is seldom if ever invoked. In this case, it's clearly an overly broad attempt to prevent people from using the company's resources to invent something, then quitting and patenting it independently or with another company. Trying to prevent that by asking you to sign away your brain for six months is just stupid.

Re:Take it home. (1)

Tweekster (949766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21320111)

And then they will face a lawsuit in reponse to that. you cant make an employee sign a new agreement without consideration for them. ie what are they getting out of it. continued employment doesnt count.

Re:Take it home. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21319813)

Dude use prepaid bro. They saved me a ton telling me how it is just benefitting the employer, besides whatever you sign and hand back they probably won't ever read. Change the contract to in your favor and keep it the same length, they bait and switched you, its only fair for you that all inventions created by them up to 6 months after you leaving are your property to sell and implement to/with your next employer without having to pay any royalties. goto http://www.getawilltoday.com/ [getawilltoday.com] and ask Brad, he's sharp and I bought prepaid from him and its saved me about $5G's so far. good luck.

Re:Take it home. (5, Insightful)

hcmtnbiker (925661) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319937)

Cross out the parts you think are ridiculous.

Sign it.


Last I knew all that achieved was voiding the entire contract unless they initialed all the parts you crossed out. And I assume the old one would still be binding in that case.

Re:Take it home. (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 6 years ago | (#21320109)

Not in the Netherlands. You can easily cross out parts you don't like and put your signature in the left margin. If the other party also puts their signature next to yours, you both signify to be OK with the change.

Re:Take it home. (4, Insightful)

Moofie (22272) | more than 6 years ago | (#21320119)

Right, so until they accept your changes, the new bogus contract is void. That's about perfect, innit? The old contract that had already been agreed to will still be in force, and the new ridiculous one will be void.

Mission accomplished.

And Initial them (1)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 6 years ago | (#21320115)

Make sure that THEY understand what you consider YOUR IDEAS that differ from their ideas,
and make sure you agree to the other shit they will try to sneak in.

Remember : THE LARGE PRINT GIVITH, THE SMALL PRINT TAKETH AWAY.

Unless they are giving you something (1)

Tweekster (949766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319723)

It wont matter a whole lot. Continued employment does not count in that either. Are they giving you a raise?

Most companies employ large docs like that with sweeping legal obligations that would never actually be held up in court. If you actually have an invention in mind, talk to a real lawyer. otherwise just ignore it since it is meaningless (get the raise or extended vacation for signing it though)

What do you get in return? (4, Insightful)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319727)

Contracts must be a two way street to be legally binding.  What do you get in return for signing this?  More money?  I'd guess not.  If you want to see an interesting blank look on your boss' face, ask him what you're getting in return.

Ask if you'll be fired if you don't sign it.  That'd be interesting, too.  Contracts made under duress are also not binding.

I would say that I'm not a lawyer, but I'm not a fucking lawyer and so I don't have to put stupid legalese into my posts!

Re:What do you get in return? (2, Insightful)

sharkb8 (723587) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319781)

he gets to keep his job in return for signing the new contract.

Re:What do you get in return? (2, Insightful)

jaxtherat (1165473) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319851)

Well sweetie, that counts as duress...

Re:What do you get in return? (1)

wiwa (905999) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319927)

I can only speak for Canadian law, but "not getting fired" counts as consideration when it comes to deciding whether or not a contract is valid, so long as they had the authority to fire you to start with (i.e. you have an ongoing employment contract rather than a fixed-term contract). This seems like a pretty standard sort of agreement to me. The only thing I can think of that would protect somebody who signs this kind of contract is that these clauses would have an influence on the duration of severance pay you would be entitled to if they let you go (since you basically couldn't work at another research job for the next six months).

Re:What do you get in return? (5, Insightful)

renegadesx (977007) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319939)

I'd sign it if they agreed to pay me for 6 months after employment, otherwise I would tell them to get stuffed

Re:What do you get in return? (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319967)

Oh they won't fire him for signing it. They'll tell him not to worry about it and then 6 months later he'll be fired along with everyone else who refused to sign it for some unrelated matter. And because most of America has at-will employment he'll be fine unless he can prove they fired him for being black or catholic.

Pretty Strict and Far-Reaching (1)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319729)

I am not personally in the IT field, but I know several who are and they have never been compelled to sign anything close to this. Either you are one innovative dude, or your company is going draconian. To me sixth-months is a ridiculously long time after termination. At six months after the fact you would be well beyond any compensation or capital from the company, be it severance or whatever. This sounds like a very raw deal. If you plan on doing anything particularly innovating I'd move on if possible. If that's not feasible, I feel your pain.

Re:Pretty Strict and Far-Reaching (0, Offtopic)

Iowan41 (1139959) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319955)

When I worked for a temp agency, I was required to sign a two-year non-compete, agreeing not to work in the IT for two years after the term of employment. So, yes, I've heard of it before.

Time for a tough decision (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319739)

Personally, I'd leave, but your situation is up to you.

Any company that would try to get these kinds of agreements from you is only interested in you in a predatory way. Either you are OK with taking it up the backside, or you need to bail. This kind of action can only really serve to generate ill-will between the company and its staff, and will cost the company far more than it would ever "save" by doing this.

Again, I'd bail - sounds like your company is beginning to eat its own young, and that spells for long term danger. At the very least, it's not an environment where YOU will be trusted, respected, and appreciated. It's up to you what these things are worth.

That's A Bit Unfair (1)

logicnazi (169418) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319999)

Or it's just a company whose executives have better things to do than read the fine print on whatever generic legal documents their counsel gave them. Why not see if they care if he tells them he won't sign the 6 month part first.

Not Enforceable in California (for the most part) (5, Informative)

triclipse (702209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319749)

California Business & Professions Code 16600 states:

"Except as provided in this chapter, every contract by which anyone is restrained from engaging in a lawful profession, trade, or business of any kind is to that extent void."

The rest of the relevant chapter addresses mainly those instances where one sells an interest in a business. In those cases noncompetes are enforceable.

California courts routinely void noncompetes under B&P 16600.

Re:Not Enforceable in California (for the most par (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319817)

The non-compete I signed when I joined Apple actually referenced that part of the California code, and was quite fair, as I recall. It said that they owned any inventions I came up with while working there that were pertinent to their business.

-jcr

Re:Not Enforceable in California (for the most par (1)

triclipse (702209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319869)

Yeah - but owning the IP you create while working at a company is a quite a bit different than not competing with them. Certainly Apple's attorneys are aware of all the nuances of this law, and I would certainly expect a provision along the lines as the one you signed to be fully enforceable.

Re:California Labor Code 2870 (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21319911)

California Labor Code Section 2870. Application of provision providing
that employee shall assign or offer to assign rights in invention to employer.
Any provision in an employment agreement which provides that an
employee shall assign, or offer to assign, any of his or her rights in an
invention to his or her employer shall not apply to an invention that the
employee developed entirely on his or her own time without using the
employer's equipment, supplies, facilities, or trade secret information
except for those inventions that either:
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
Result from any work performed by the employee for his
employer.
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:Not Enforceable in California (for the most par (1)

kwerle (39371) | more than 6 years ago | (#21320075)

Yeah, I've signed several ridiculous papers - but I live and work in California, and I know they are unenforceable. I figure some lawyer somewhere was told to write a contract that would do thus-and-so, so they did. To hell with whether it was enforceable or not. The odds of my bitching about a dumb contract making a good impression on an employer or making it up the chain and getting something changed are about nil (given that these usually come with short-term contract gigs in my case).

There was one job where that kind of happened, though. I skimmed the contract (because I don't much care what they say), pointed out some of the things that were clearly insane while my boss's boss and some flunky hovered. The flunky took interest. I read a few sentences and said "Look, this essentially means that you get my work on my hardware on my time for free, even if it has nothing to do with you. That doesn't fly." He replies "that amounts to slavery - that isn't possible." "Right. Whatever. Who wrote this crap?" "I did."

It's fortunate that I have generally worked for smart, reasonable people. I signed the ridiculous contract and we all got on with our lives.

If you don't like it, don't sign it (as is, anyway (1)

Nogami_Saeko (466595) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319751)

Check with your lawyer, cross out the bits you don't like and initial them (or just send back a signed version that you've fixed).

I wouldn't sign a contract like that...

Something like this has come up before (1)

shbazjinkens (776313) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319753)

I'm not going to try and search for it, but some time ago I recall a case coming up on Slashdot in which a company had went through federal courts to obtain intellectual property for an invention which their (former) employee had in his head. He hadn't patented it yet, it wasn't related to the company in any way and he had thought this up on his own time, yet they still took him to court and won the idea in his head.

So, regardless of the contract, federal law is on their side. As for the six months thing, how are you going to get a patent that fast?

Things to try (2, Insightful)

plover (150551) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319757)

You obviously have two choices: sign it or don't. I'm guessing "don't" probably comes with the spectre of termination. But there are things you could try.

You could modify the agreement by striking out the "or within six months thereafter" clauses and sign it. There's a chance that it'll be sent only to a paper-stamper who is responsible for checking signatures off a list, and he might not see your modification. Of course it's more likely your boss is on the hook for collecting signatures, and he'll note your changes. You could try convincing him that the agreement is unfair, and that your changes are just.

You could try ignoring it. See if they follow through on their threats.

You could talk to your coworkers and organize yourselves to collectively say "we're not signing this." If an entire group said "no" you'd scare the crap out of management. Of course you'd likely all be labeled "troublemakers" or "union organizers" and be lined up for rapid replacement.

Or you could shut up and sign it. Unless you've got another job in your back pocket, the market's kind of thin these days.

Depends where you live (4, Insightful)

stox (131684) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319759)

If you lived in Illinois, these paragraphs would be completely null and void. I can't speak for other states.

Haha (1)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319763)

Well if they would include you in the payroll for another 6 months after your resignation then all the better.

Seriously, I had seen contracts that prohibits you to be employed with a competitor within 6 months after the termination of your contract but this one is BS. This could/would conflict with your current employer's contract. I don't think the last one is really enforceable, IMHO.

If you won't get into trouble if you don't sign it, then don't. Otherwise as others pointed out, ask a lawyer....

Alter the agreement subtlely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21319765)

I was once faced with a new agreement that I disagreed with as it granted too much invasion of my privacy and loss of my rights to my employer. It was presented with a "sign or be fired" concept. I altered the document with a change to the final line with a single word. It then read "I do not agree with the above conditions". I signed it and handed it in. No one ever noticed.

So Change It. (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319769)

Just because the company presented you with a contract does not mean that you have to accept it as is. You can negotiate changes to it. However, as mentioned elsewhere, lawyer up first.

Re:So Change It. (1)

schwaang (667808) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319917)

I agree with this.

Except for the post-employment part, alot of this is typical stuff. But folks in academia, who need the right to publish what they've done and may already have patent assignment obligations to their university for certain work, need the ability to modify the terms of these contracts. And, of course, so do open-source people, who may want the right to work on un-related stuff on their own time.

I recently helped an academic friend who was doing consulting on the side. He had a similar contract, and I helped him draft alternative language that preserved certain freedoms he needed. I think in part because we offered a concrete alternative, his company agreed. [I would have felt much better if my friend had run this by a lawyer, but alas...]

During that experience I was surprised to NOT find appropriate boilerplate contract language waiting for us out on the web. I think it would be a big help to both open-source and academics to have this kind of resource when confronted with old-school contracts. Have the lawyering done once, and we can all use it.

Your company wants to hire robotic morans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21319773)

Why should you treat them any differently than how they treat you? Just go along with their game and don't think up anything that they can use to advance the company.

Write down all your ideas at home when you're not working, or on your own laptop. Don't think about anything interesting at work. Then at 6 months and 1 day announce your invention.

Just say no. (2, Insightful)

compumike (454538) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319777)

Slavery is illegal in this country... and an agreement like this is essentially financial slavery.

The idea that this kind of control over IP can extend beyond the scope of employment is, unfortunately, fairly typical. I think it's worth trying to fight. I haven't heard about trying to extend beyond the duration of employment, too -- that's just absurd.

Maybe it's possible to ask for increased compensation -- say an extra six months -- in exchange? If they really think that the intellectual property you'll create is worth it, that seems to be a first attempt at fairness.

In any case, in IT, are you really in the position to be creating that much intellectual property? Lots of companies are trying to shove agreements like this down employee's throats, without thinking about the consequences. Unfortunately, most people just sign blindly.

It's a bit overused, but might this be reflective of the atmosphere of American consumerism? Nobody wants to create content anymore... we'd like to just consume media. I hate to say it, but I think this all comes full circle into the file sharing debate:

People today don't sufficiently value intellectual property.

This leads to the problem with pirating electronic media, but also seems to lead to the situation where people don't stand up and refuse restrictive employment contracts like this one.

--
Educational microcontroller kits for the digital generation. [nerdkits.com]

Get a pen... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21319783)

In this age of one-sided "click here to agree to the e-terms," don't forget that you have the right to cross out any contract items you don't agree with. You already have your employment.. if they don't like it, that's their problem not yours.

Don't sign it. (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319787)

You're already working there, and they want you to sign new conditions? Fuck that.

-jcr

Second verse same as the first. (1)

aztektum (170569) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319789)

We see this like every 6 months to a year. The answer is always one of three things...

Consult a lawyer.

Find a new job.

or something to the effect of...

Cross out or amend the items in question. Initial the changes, then sign the document. If they don't like it see 1 and/or 2.

It is not sound as adsurd as it seems. (1)

SYSS Mouse (694626) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319797)

In Japan, it is quite expected that your invention belongs to the company, inside or outside. (Although it is also equally expected for the inventor to receive a bonus from the company)

For example, , inventor of blue-light LED. [wikipedia.org]

Nakamura successfully sued his company over the bonus, settled for 840 million yen (more than 7 million US).

Sign it if they pay up. (2, Insightful)

Kenrod (188428) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319801)

Figure out what the agreement is worth and ask them for compensation. If they want 6 months of your "inventions" after you leave employment, they need to pay you 6 months salary, or a reasonable portion thereof, up front.

Since you didn't agree to this new contract when you were hired, you should have your pay adjusted accordingly.

SpOn6e (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21319827)

of open-sou8ce. abyWsmal sales and

Edit the document (1)

Dier Vek (1187725) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319829)

have some fun and edit the document. for instance change the text to say... "A. Employee shall promptly and fully be treated as God on earth and be given everything imaginable [Company] any inventions, improvements, discoveries, operating techniques, or "know-how", whether patentable or not (hereinafter referred to as "Inventions"), conceived or discovered by Employee, either solely or jointly with others, during the course of Employee's employment with [Company], or within six (6) months thereafter." If the president of the USA can have signing statements why not you? Make yourself their new CEO

It depends on the terms on which employment ends. (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319839)

I would say that those terms are entirely reasonable if the employee volunteers to leave the company without being requested to resign or coerced into quitting.

Those terms are entirely UNreasonable if they apply even if the employer lays off the employee or otherwise does not leave the reason for leaving as the responsibility of the employee

I'd make that clear with your employer if I were you.

My wife had such an agreement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21319845)

When my wife quit working for one outfit and started for another, she got a nasty letter from the previous outfit's lawyers. They threatened to sue if she didn't quit immediately.

In Ontario (Canada) the law society has a service where they will refer you to a lawyer with the right specialization. My wife contacted one of the lawyers on the list. He looked at the contract and said something in lawyer that translated as: "This is crap". For a couple of hundred bucks he wrote a letter to the other lawyers and that ended the threats.

YMMV, the law being what it is. The relationship between an employee and an employer can be seen as unequal and judges often use that as a reason to void contracts that are too one-sided. If it becomes an issue, find a lawyer who specializes in such contracts (ie. not the one who handled your last house purchase).

They want to renegotiate your employment contract? (1)

digitaltraveller (167469) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319849)

What are your inventions worth to you?

It's a personal question. For me, they mean everything and I don't work in the industry for this reason.

Regardless, they are asking you to renegotiate the terms of your employment.

You should work out how much invention rights are worth to you. Then sign a new contract for an amount greater than that. If your a half decent negotiator this should be no problem.

That clause applying 6 months after employment termination is in my opinion unreasonable. I wouldn't even consider it unless they were willing to payout 6 months salary upon the completion of your employment contract for the term that you will be unemployable.

Re:They want to renegotiate your employment contra (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21319941)

If you decide that "6 months pay" is what this is worth (which, frankly, is what I think it's worth), then don't forget benefits.

In particular, think about what you would miss if you were forcibly unemployed for 6 months. Think about:

1.) Health insurance. The big one. Require they cover you under the terms in force on your last day of employment.
2.) Inflation: Index any payments to some inflation index. Either your base salary, the CPI, or ideally the higher of the two.
3.) Okay, there is no 3.

Anyway, don't take your annual salary, divide by two, and insist on that. Aim higher.

And if you're seriously thinking about negotiating this rather than just laughing at them, see a lawyer. A good one. It's worth the money if you're going to stick this out.

Personally, I'd refuse to hire you for 6 months if you had this agreement in the past, and I'd consider you duty-bound to disclose it. Don't sign it.

I personally like the "strike the objectionable parts and return it. See if they notice". Don't forget to keep a copy. Consider getting a non-interested witness to initial a copy of the document that is made right after you make the modifications and sign it. A notary might be useful here, too.

Good luck.

Ignore it? (1)

sexyrexy (793497) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319857)

Of course, every company is different, so this may not apply to you, but... when I was handed something similar, I told my immediate boss, with whom I was on pretty good terms, that I was not really happy with some parts of it and I'd need to discuss it further. Then I took it back to my desk, tossed it in the corner, and kept working there for a year before I moved on to bigger and better things.

So... (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319873)

Any open source stuff you do? Company's.

For that matter, partial copyright for any contributions to open source projects? Company's, which could really hurt anything you work on.

This taints you in a way that would make you useless for any innovative work done within that six week period, even for another company, because under your contract, it's the de facto property of your former employer.

This smacks of the wording of a recording contract. All future songs belong to the company, even before they're conceived.

Unfortunately I think this is pretty standard wording for these sorts of contracts; I remember signing one when I was working for Stream back in the day (and while it concerned me then, they neither know nor would care about anything I might have done in the meantime).

Be careful. Make sure the job and the company is worth it for you. Otherwise, they've got you by the balls when you quit.

Ask for something in return (1)

mpsheppa (1088477) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319877)

The 6 months clause in this agreement is ridiculous. If enforced, it means that you couldn't work in any other job where you produce IP of any sort for the 6 months after you leave because otherwise anything you create for the new company is at risk of being claimed by the old company. The same goes for working for yourself, anything involving the creation of IP will be put at risk. The contract may well not be enforceable, but even so it is better to be on the safe side and not have to ever go through the process of getting a court to decide that it isn't enforceable. If the company really does desire this restriction for some reason then that's fair enough, but to compensate for it, the company should agree to maintain your pay at the level it was when you left for a period of 6 months. Now, if you do go and do a job that doesn't involve creating any IP for those 6 months, e.g. flipping burgers, then they could just top up your pay to the level it was rather than continuing to pay the whole lot. You can point out that because you are getting fair compensation for signing the agreement that there is a much greater chance of it being enforceable as well, so if the company really does need this for some reason then the modified agreement benefits both of you.

Section F: (1)

LinkFree (1112259) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319893)

Employee shall promptly and fully disclose to [Company] his or her first-born child (hereinafter referred to as "the child"), along with any and all inventions pertaining to the child. [Company] shall be the sole and absolute owner of the child, as well as any and all things under the sun beneath which the child resides. ("things" refers to any object or concept, substantial, insubstantial, or otherwise. This includes items both conceivable and inconceivable.)
IANAL, but I could get used to writing utter bullshit like that.

Legal Concerns (1)

Defectuous (1097475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319905)

I had to sign one of those a few months back. Actually had a chance to sit down with my employers legal staff as I had concerns dealing with independent php development I do. This sounds a lot like the wording I read. If your concerned Sit down with the company legal staff. If they are unreachable or very difficult to understand, Get a Second Opinion. But let your concerns be known. With my company it was as long as I did not write anything to compete with them or anything that could be based off of anything currently in use or in current development & future plans of them. If your personal stuff has nothing to do with your work then I would not be to concerned. Also on the patents, if you build a better mouse trap and if your work for a bank. They have no legal right to touch your patent. But if you develop a more efficient / secure ATM software then they can take it.

9000 'in writings' later.... (1)

ThreeGigs (239452) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319907)

Any 'discovery', operating technique or 'know-how'?

So if you use the 'operating technique' of testing both ends of a patch cable, and when you re-crimp it your 'know-how' includes taking a notch out of a side of the sheath so it holds better in the plug, are you required to sit down and write a letter explaining this?

Considering the rate of change and new product introductions in IT, I'd guess I learn at least one or two new things a day which could be considered operating technique or know-how. Being required to submit my new knowledge in writing every day would severely curtail productivity.

A Contract May Not Be Enforceable (1)

reporter (666905) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319919)

There are two important issues. First, some states (like California) have very strict rules about what can be enforced. That you sign a labor contract does not mean that every item in the contract is enforceable. The clauses (of the contract) conflicting with state rules are not enforceable. In California, your employer cannot claim legal rights to any invention that you produce after you terminate employment -- unless you used company proprietary information to produce the invention.

The second issue is that, in some states (like Calfornia), you are not required to agree to binding arbitration in a dispute even if your contract stipulates binding arbitration. In California, an appeals court declared that binding arbitration in any contract allowing a full court trial by a company filing suit against an employee is null and void. In the case of David Abramson vs. Juniper [bizjournals.com] , the appeals court said that allowing a court trial by the company against an employee but disallowing a trial (in favor of binding arbitration) by an employee against the company is unfair and invalid. If a court trial is allowed in one direction, the trial must be allowed in the other direction.

In other words, if your former employer attempts to intimidate you (with high-powered company lawyers) into signing away your invention (produced after termination from the company) to him, then you can sue your former employer for harrassment. You do not need to agree to binding arbitration. You can sue your former employer in a full court trial.

Most American companies, like Juniper, are ruthless. So, know your rights. Contact the labor departments of both the federal government and the state government. Talk to your lawyer.

By the way, does anyone know how the lawsuit by David Abramson against Juniper is progressing? The appeals court granted him the right to sue Juniper in a full court trial.

Why this should NOT be allowed. (1)

rice_burners_suck (243660) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319929)

Why this should NOT be allowed:

Suppose some evil son of a gun owns a big huge multinational corporation. Suppose said evil son of a gun is yours truly, Mr. 1337z h4x0rz... I could write up a non-compete agreement that every employee had to sign that basically said "All your base are belong to us" in legalese, meaning that anything the person does, for the remainder of their life, is the sole property of ME!!! Bwaaa haaa haa haa haaaahaaahahahahahahahahaha!!!!

I am not a lawyer but I would assume that in the United States, the general viewpoint is that people have a right to work and earn money from their trade. Therefore if you quit or get fired from some company, as long as you're not doing something blatantly evil like copying stuff that you were doing at Company A in order to benefit Company B (or, say, to start your own business that does the same thing), I think it would be up to a court to decide, and it would probably decide that the whole agreement isn't worth the paper it's printed on.

IANAL (1)

fortunato (106228) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319949)

I am definitely not a lawyer. That said, assuming you decline to sign it, if they try to fire you only on the basis of not signing a new contract when you are already employed would be highly questionable and I can't see any judge in his right mind siding with your company. That said, before you decline to sign it make sure there is no other reason for them to find to fire you. Because believe me they will look.

Completely anecdotal, I dated a director of HR. And I can tell you, in general, they do NOT look out for the employees. In this day and age they are no longer the "brokers" between management and employees. Their sole purpose is to do the will of the upper management. And if that means looking for a reason to terminate you, they WILL find one, even if its something as lame as you came to work late a few times in the past few months. You would be amazed at the things that get filed into your employee records, even without your knowledge.

So ultimately, if you are going to decline to sign this thing, make sure you go to HR and ask for your files first and make sure there is nothing in there that they can use against you to justify your termination.

Smart People Are Stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21319961)

Why is it that dumb sales people don't have similar restrictions on their business contacts? Smart people seem to get screwed on IP. If you have IP restrictions, then so should everyone else at your firm, and you should all get paid a lot of money for it.

I got one and didn't sign it. (5, Interesting)

wrook (134116) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319969)

One of the companies I used to work for tried to get me to sign an "updated" contract.

I told them, "I already have a contract and I'm happy with it. There are termination measures in the contract, but I don't think any of the issues apply (gross incompetance, etc)."

Legal freaked out. They told me I must sign the new contract or else my employment would end. I said, "The contract I am working under has no expiration date and I don't see any provisions for updating it. As I said, I'm happy with this contract, so unless you offer me large concessions I don't really feel it's in my best interest to sign another one".

Legal freaked out again. They said, "Everyone has signed this contract. You are the last person. You must sign it."

I asked, "Are you saying that you will fire me if I don't sign this contract?"

"Well, no."

"Good because I like the old contract better."

End of story. Never heard from them again.

In Australia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21319971)

the clause that claims ownership of IP after you leave would be a breach of the trade practises act. I learned that in a university course only a week ago.

Salary (1)

terminal.dk (102718) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319977)

This contract of course also would give you full salary for 6 months after you stop working at the place ? Here in Denmark, you need to get compensation for any non-competition clause in the contract. After this happened, most have gone from the contracts.

Go and negotiate the 6 months salary after you stop, or have them delete the thing about you working for them 6 months after you stop.

Sick and Ugly (1)

Black Copter Control (464012) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319987)

Even if it turns out that those terms are not enforcable, you might be forced to spend thousands of dollars to defend your right to not do what you contractually agree to do by signing that contract.

I think that it could be said that, if they threaten punish you for not signing on to this contract, they are unilaterally changing the terms of your employment in a very nasty way. Talk to a lawyer about this.. You might have grounds for a constructive dismissal suit, because I don't think that any sane person would sign onto a contract like that without lots and lots of money up front.

The other thing to remember, is that everything is negotiable -- but be warned... if you actually negotiate with them starting with this contract, the other icky things in there (and I'm sure there are..) which come back to bite you may be all the more strongly interpreted by a later court because you had a hand in negotiating the contract. I think that the best thing you could do (though be warned: IANAL -- I'm not even American!) might be to simply baulk at the contract, and presume that the one you originally signed will do the job.

I Seriously doubt that signing any contract that they place on your desk was part of your original job description. They can ask you to gratuitiously sign a new, seriously hobbling contract in the same way that you can ask them for a 100% raise. In either case, saying no is not likely to be actionable.

I would, however, keep a contract of the egregious contract for future reference.

I should probably post this anonymously, but... (1)

Jethro (14165) | more than 6 years ago | (#21319989)

My company routinely provides me with new and updated agreements that make absolutely no sense to me and which "need to be signed by End Of Day Friday."

I used to take them seriously until the one where I grant the company the right to enter my home and go through my stuff whenever they want.

Ever since then I've either just outright ignored the thing, or edited out the parts I don't like, signed THAT and sent it in.

That was about 4 years ago and nobody seems to really care or notice. YMMV, of course.

Re:I should probably post this anonymously, but... (1)

Kuroji (990107) | more than 6 years ago | (#21320093)

What the heck do you do for a living that makes them think they have the right to do THAT?

Re:I should probably post this anonymously, but... (1)

Jethro (14165) | more than 6 years ago | (#21320135)

I /do/ get to telecommute a lot and therefore have company equipment at home, and potentially I could be an idiot and print out sensitive information and not shred it, but hey, trust me or don't allow me to work at home, right?

Don't sign as-is (1)

klaiber (117439) | more than 6 years ago | (#21320009)

I personally would not sign this as-is. I'd cross out the ludicrous parts (like the 6 months post-employment), or amend (e.g, section B should only apply to IP conceived during the period of employment), then sign and return it. If they don't like it, I'd either get a lawyer or a new job. You already work there, so that creates a bit of a hurdle for them; I suspect not many companies would risk firing people over refusal to sign a document of questionable legality (not to mention ethics).
The more secure you feel about your skills and ability to find a new job, the less you should be concerned about refusing such a contract.

Paying you for it?? (1)

EEBaum (520514) | more than 6 years ago | (#21320023)

At my job, I'm paid for the 8 hours of work per day that I'm there, five days per week. That's 40 out of the 168 hours per week. There's an understanding that anything I do outside of those hours is my own business. If I come up with something at home that benefits the company (i.e. figure a solution to a problem), that's their bonus.

If the company is willing to pay me for another 128 hours per week, then we'll talk about owning things I don't do at work. If they want to offer a severance package worth 26*168 hours of pay, I might be able to consider pre-signing 6 months of post-leaving inventions over.

The place I work encourages us to do our own projects for ourselves on our own time, and encourages us to use the skills we've learned (minus confidential trade-secret type stuff) at wherever we end up working next. I guess the place is kinda old-fashioned in the "let's make people want to work here" area.

Its unenforceable (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 6 years ago | (#21320027)

I am no lawyer but I just finished a business law class in college.

Basically a judge can throw out such terms if he or she finds such terms negative and unfair for your employment. There are limits too in most states but I do not remember the time lines exactly for which you can't work for a competitor or share any ideas.

THis form of contract law a NCA is very subjective compared to most contracts so the judge himself can decide. This appears really one sided towards the employer only so likely most of the terms nullified. But still that is money on your part if your ever taken to court.

You can't force a free mind (5, Insightful)

Quadraginta (902985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21320047)

I know a lot of people will advise you to consult a lawyer, but my advice, as one who has consulted lawyers far more often than I'd wish to have had, is not to.

First of all, the law is not nearly as clear-cut as geeky programmer types think it is. As a rule, the law is roughly speaking some mash-up of what the legislature wrote, what the judge thinks ought to be so, and what a jury of random folks majoring in theater and journalism at the local community college think it ought to be. Hence a good lawyer is probably not going to be able to give you an precise and definitive answer on all your what-if scenarios. Instead, he'll probably agree with you on general grounds that the contract is evil, vicious, and you are a noble person dreadfully wronged blah blah (this is just advertising, an appeal to your vanity, so you won't forget him when you someday need a lawyer). If you press him on specifics, the most he's likely to do is tell you roughly how he would argue the case against the contract if he needed to, but he's unlikely to guarantee it will work.

Secondly, aside from satisfying your injured pride, what would be the result of asking a lawyer and setting yourself back $500 or so? Suppose the lawyer agrees it's a smelly contract, and a court might rule this or that aspect unenforceable, if push came to shove? What are you going to do with this information? Go to your boss and say Ha! All your base are belong us! and he's just going to say Curses! Foiled again! and tear up the NDA, maybe give you a raise for showing initiative and helpfully pointing out the folly of the company's ways? I mean, as opposed to marking you down as a pain in the ass who needs to be shitcanned at the first opportunity, like maybe right now? Your feelings would probably be more effectively soothed if you spent that $500 buying pretty girls drinks in a club.

Finally, if you just have enough mental discipline to keep your mouth shut when you need to, this doesn't matter anyway. Suppose you do have some kick-ass wonderful idea while you're working for this bunch, and you decide you want to take it elsewhere. All you need to do is not keep notes on your idea in your office (duh), not work on it using company computers and networks (duh), not talk boastfully about it around the water cooler -- this is the hard part -- and just generally keep your thoughts to yourself as long as you work there and for six months afterward. When your killer idea takes the world by storm it's going to be up to your former employers to prove in court that you had the idea eight months earlier, when you still worked for them. But without the evidence you've carefully avoided providing, they're screwed. They can't read your mind.

As for the ethics involved: anyone who gives you a contract like that to sign has made their lack of morals completely clear. You owe them no consideration in return whatsoever. Indeed, if you used them to pay your rent while secretly working out your brilliant idea at home, they'd have only gotten what they deserve.

Are you in California? (1)

Anthony Boyd (242971) | more than 6 years ago | (#21320049)

I'm in California, and I typically just sign those things with a rider, "not legal in California [unixguru.com] , and if that changes, I expect to renegotiate the contract." They don't seem to care. I even point out my notes, in case they're just oblivious. But they care later, though. One particularly bad company I used to work for issued a ruling that no one could own or work on "any Web sites, including personal ones."

I told them that it wasn't legal. They said that there were moonlighting exemptions in California law, so that they could prohibit it. We argued for a while about what was considered "moonlighting" and how the hell a personal site could qualify, then finally I shrugged and said, "I exempted myself in our legal agreement." They checked, and boy were they pissed. I kept my sites running, while all the other employees shut theirs down or got really quiet about what they were doing.

If you're not in California, I would say that you should strike out the lines you don't agree with, sign it, and turn it in. If their lawyers freak out, they'll come back to negotiate more with you. You'll have to decide if you want to play hardball. They could fire you if they think you're not worth the trouble. I typically have enough job offers that I call bluffs like that, but I feel that it's a dangerous lead to follow if you really need the job. Good luck.

Won't stand up in court. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21320051)

In Australia this sort of condition is not enforceable from what I've been told. However you may need deep pockets to fight it!

Flood them with papers (1)

Marty200 (170963) | more than 6 years ago | (#21320061)

If you have to sign it to keep your job, I'd start flooding them with paper work. Go out with your friends for beer and start coming up with crazy ideas. Scribble them down and then find out who you're suppose to send them too. Maybe attach a letter saying that if they don't respond in writing in 30 day that you will assume you have the right to pursue the ideas on your own time without the company owning them.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

University of California (1)

randomc0de (928231) | more than 6 years ago | (#21320073)

I can tell you that as an employee of the University of California system, you sign over all copyrights and patents to the UC Regents that are created using University resources. It's not very draconian because the "while using University resources" part ensures you can safely patent/copyright anything you want - just on your own time with your own computers. Plus most of the copyright stuff goes public domain or something very close. Definitely no non-compete agreements.

I don't know. . . (1)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 6 years ago | (#21320083)

Is arson tolerated at your work place?

Being asked to sign something like that is insulting, disrespectful and just plain wrong. --The argument that, "Because we provided the knowledge and experiences during their time at our company, employees owe us all their resulting thoughts and actions," is deeply flawed. --Disney makes employees sign similar agreements with regard to any ideas or drawings they come up with even in the privacy of their own homes after work hours; (Does a script or drawing an animator makes result from having a desk under a Disney roof or do ideas possibly have something to do with their unique imaginations and personalities and the supreme effort it takes to create something new?) If a company really thinks that creativity comes down 100% to the resources provided, then perhaps employees should just sit at their desks and drool and see how much salable output results. At the very least, there should be a profit sharing model in place, (beyond the regular paycheck, that is!). CEOs should kiss the floors walked by the people who form the life-blood of their companies, and employees should be offered appropriate compensation for their efforts. But no. Instead, you are referred to as, "Human Resource Material" on some business plan you'll never see.

Reasonable discussion simply cannot take place when your employer would bleed you dry and eat your liver if they thought they could legally profit by it.

Some days I wish I were Batman so I could perform some "ethical cleansing" with impunity.

Seriously. There are many other ways to forge a happy living. Get the heck out of there and tell your boss he's a spineless piece of shit for not doing the same when he was told to hand out those new contracts. That's my advice.


-FL

Any company that writes a contract like that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21320099)

is shooting itself in the foot. If the company had half an ounce of common sense they would realise that offering this contract to a smart person is the best way to get the least from them.

Every programmer, every artist and every designer builds up a set of knowledge and skills during their career. As they get older and more experienced they take that knowledge with them. That's why they get paid more as time goes by. Let's say you're any good. Let's say your're actually a damn smart person with loads of ideas, someone who can push forward the technology of the company in leaps and bounds - that's why they hired you right? When you join the company you bring with you far more than you can take.

Now you sign a contract like this. It's career suicide and you know it. From the moment your signature is dry you have one choice of behaviour. Anything you do or say that is remotely useful, any of your hard gained experience and knowledge that you divulge, they can claim yo "own". So you do this... Each day walk into your office and do FUCK ALL beyond the minimum needed to avoid being fired. Don't develop any new ideas that you can't read in a published textbook or journal. Don't discuss anything that might be innovative or patentable with your colleagues or bosses. Keep all your thoughts and ideas in your head, kick back and relax. If there's a good way to solve something and you can think of a bad one that at least looks like you're trying then use that one instead. Analyse the mistakes and failures of the company, all the while keeping a mental note of how you *would* solve them. Wait 6 months and then go to work with someone who respects you for what you can offer right now, not what they think they can own in the future.

btw, if you sign it you're a fool.

Me too (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 6 years ago | (#21320123)

A few years ago, a subsidiary of the Ford Motor Company tried this on me. I did not take the job. I was broke for over a year, but I still would not take jobs on conditions like that.

so what everyone is trying to say is... (1)

Topherbyte (747078) | more than 6 years ago | (#21320139)

if you like your job... play the game. If you were a prolific inventor you probably wouldn't be there anyhow.
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