Eau Claire, WI asked in Intellectual Property for Wisconsin

Q: Looking for information on intellectual property.

I've done educational consulting for years and am considering an independent consulting contract as a trainer with a national company. The contract has a clause about intellectual property that I am looking for clarification or help with. I plan to continue work outside of this new contract and want to be sure materials I create do not automatically become property of someone else.

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1 Lawyer Answer

A: Usually, unless an employee (of an employer) or a contractor (of a client) invents something or creates a copyrightable work FOR the employer/client as an express part or condition of the person's employment or as a "work for hire," the invention/work would belong to the employee/contractor. A rule of thumb is that if a person is inventing or creating on the employer/client's time and dime, the invention/creation belongs to the employer/client. An exception would be, e.g., a janitor that is mopping the employer's hallway and has a eureka moment for a functional anti-gravity machine - even though the idea occurred to the janitor on the company's time, because the janitor wasn't hired to invent nor is the concept even in the realm of janitorial services, the invention should belong to the janitor.

But as your question suggests, it would be best to consult an IP attorney to see if the IP clause unfairly reaches back to inventions/works before the contract or tries to grab "too much" going forward, like the janitor's idea.

Best of luck.

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