Q: As a developer, does my employer own rights to my side projects that I work on in my own time and on my own hardware?

In my employer’s employment agreement:

“As between Company and myself, I agree that all right, title, and interest in and to any and all copyrightable material, notes, records, drawings, designs, inventions, improvements, developments, discoveries and trade secrets conceived, discovered, authored, invented, developed or reduced to practice by me, solely or in collaboration with others, during the period of time I am in the employ of the Company (including during my off-duty hours), or with the use of Company’s equipment, supplies, facilities, or Company Confidential Information, and any copyrights, patents, trade secrets, mask work rights or other intellectual property rights relating to the foregoing (collectively, “Inventions”), are the sole property of the Company.”

Does this mean that even if, in my own free time away from work on my own hardware, if I make a dog sitter app and the company is a restaurant management software service that they own my app or any others I create

1 Lawyer Answer
Kevin E. Flynn
Kevin E. Flynn
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Answered
  • Patents Lawyer
  • Chapel Hill, NC

A: That is what they are asking for. You would need to consult with an employment attorney in your state to see if this would be enforceable under local law.

This is an overreach by the company. Normally, they limit this sort of agreement to inventions or software related to their line of business (whether or not made at work). Often there is an appendix where you can list inventions, ideas, etc. that you already have and thus are outside of this agreement.

I would take this as a red flag that the company may be unreasonable in other parts of their relationship with you.

Kevin E Flynn

1 user found this answer helpful

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