Who owns the rights to my work?

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15 Replies - 1301 Views - Last Post: 13 February 2020 - 11:53 AM

#1 albert003   User is offline

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Who owns the rights to my work?

Posted 08 February 2020 - 11:02 PM

At my previous job I wrote so code and my supervisor and team mates weren't interested in using it nor was my supervisor. Their excuse was that they wanted me to only use it. They are stuck in the late 80's and 90's refusing to automate or use any of the code I wrote. I am no longer with them and I was wondering the following:
1.since I only used the the programs (I wrote no one else used it and only our office used them)
2.I never shared the software I wrote to other offices

Do I own the rights to the code?

I wanted to use two of the programs I wrote at my new job and modify them for what is needed. But I don't know if I have the rights to the code.

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Replies To: Who owns the rights to my work?

#2 jon.kiparsky   User is offline

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Re: Who owns the rights to my work?

Posted 08 February 2020 - 11:13 PM

Legally speaking, if you have legal questions, you should talk to a lawyer. Because I'm just a guy on the internet and I know literally nothing about the law, particularly what the law might be where you live, which I don't even know where that is. So don't listen to anything I say because I'm totally useless.

But I would sorta wonder, if you're going to take code that you've written for some other work, that nobody ever looked at, and you use it for your current work... how is anyone ever going to know and why should they care?
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#3 albert003   User is offline

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Re: Who owns the rights to my work?

Posted 08 February 2020 - 11:28 PM

Thats what I thought. No one at my other job was technically inclined and I was "The IT guy".
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#4 jimblumberg   User is online

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Re: Who owns the rights to my work?

Posted 08 February 2020 - 11:42 PM

Quote

Legally speaking, if you have legal questions, you should talk to a lawyer. Because I'm just a guy on the internet and I know literally nothing about the law, particularly what the law might be where you live, which I don't even know where that is. So don't listen to anything I say because I'm totally useless.

Agree, same goes for me.

Quote

I wanted to use two of the programs I wrote at my new job and modify them for what is needed.

Be careful, if you wrote the code at work and used work equipment to create the code, the code might/probably belongs to the employer. But if you want to take a chance??

Jim
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#5 modi123_1   User is online

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Re: Who owns the rights to my work?

Posted 09 February 2020 - 12:42 AM

As a chimp mascarading as a golden retriever pretending to be a guy on the information super high way I declare I own your code and regret to inform you that you are behind in payments.

That being said if you wrote code for your old job it's typically theirs regardless of who is,or isn't, using it. Usually a lot of contracts spell that out or can be litigated.

Now if you opt to rewrite it in your new job, sure roll that dice.

Also, if you really want to get your mole rats in a row talk to an actual IP lawyer.
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#6 jon.kiparsky   User is offline

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Re: Who owns the rights to my work?

Posted 09 February 2020 - 11:05 AM

On a much more important issue, "dice" is plural. "roll that die" or "roll those dice" would be correct.
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#7 Skydiver   User is online

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Re: Who owns the rights to my work?

Posted 09 February 2020 - 11:47 AM

Check your old employers contract that you signed would be a first step. It can vary a lot from place to place as well as fields if endeavors.

I found it interesting shifting from a tech company to an insurance company but in an IT role, my new employment contract didn't lay claims to any code or inventions I may have while working for them. It was also interesting to see that they didn't have a "no moonlighting" clause. I double checked with HR to make sure I understood things correctly and they confirmed it (in writing).
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#8 modi123_1   User is online

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Re: Who owns the rights to my work?

Posted 09 February 2020 - 11:58 AM

Sorry jon, I meant 'mice'. Damn auto correct.

As in the old Louisiana bayou saying, roll that mices. I think it came over from the old country, Flemmish take on the Cinderella tale.
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#9 no2pencil   User is online

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Re: Who owns the rights to my work?

Posted 09 February 2020 - 12:54 PM

Your HR paperwork should explicitly say. It should also say weather or not you are allowed to moonlight.

View PostSkydiver, on 09 February 2020 - 01:47 PM, said:

I found it interesting shifting from a tech company to an insurance company but in an IT role, my new employment contract didn't lay claims to any code or inventions I may have while working for them. It was also interesting to see that they didn't have a "no moonlighting" clause. I double checked with HR to make sure I understood things correctly and they confirmed it (in writing).

oops, didn't catch this until after I provided my reply. In the past I've also negotiated over moonlighting. Even turned down a place once over it, back when I had my repair shop.
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#10 albert003   User is offline

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Re: Who owns the rights to my work?

Posted 10 February 2020 - 06:45 AM

The thing is that at my previous job I was working in "IT". I was hired to swap out parts from bad proprietary computers and not really troubleshoot them.In my contract that was my job. I took the initiative to use my coding skills to help things at work. No one was interested in using my programs because to them it was "magic". When I offered to teach them my supervisor basically said "you'll take care of it".
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#11 modi123_1   User is online

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Re: Who owns the rights to my work?

Posted 10 February 2020 - 08:14 AM

Again, you did work - abet on your own - to produce a product for use with that company. Thirty-thousand-foot view would indicate that's theirs.
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#12 Skydiver   User is online

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Re: Who owns the rights to my work?

Posted 10 February 2020 - 10:00 AM

Not having been in the military, I don't know how patents and IP works. Consider the invention of the Super Soaker. In one of the little shorts that PBS has, I'm quite sure I heard them say that he came up with the idea for the Super Soaker while he was working on more efficient ways to pump propellant into rocket engines. So his idea clearly had applications towards his work if the little blurb is true.

(As an aside: I stumbled across an interesting correlation between US Marine Corps patent holders and their pistol shooting scores.)
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#13 BenignDesign   User is offline

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Re: Who owns the rights to my work?

Posted 12 February 2020 - 06:21 AM

Always, always, always read the intellectual property and non-compete clauses in your contracts. If you read nothing else, read those.

I worked a few years at a code farm where the intellectual property clause in the original contract they wanted me to sign stated that any code I wrote while under their employ - whether it was for them, for my own personal projects, for a freelance side gig, on or off the clock - belonged exclusively to them. It also contained a non-compete that said I couldn't work as a programmer anywhere in the US for a period of 5 years after leaving their employ. Um... how about no, Scott?

In the end, they owned everything I wrote for them and I wasn't allowed to work as a programmer in Pennsylvania for 5 years after leaving their employ. I retained the rights to anything I wrote for myself or side projects.
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#14 astonecipher   User is offline

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Re: Who owns the rights to my work?

Posted 12 February 2020 - 01:26 PM

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I wasn't allowed to work as a programmer in Pennsylvania for 5 years after leaving their employ.


I am positive that is not only illegal, but not enforceable. They can say, "you cant work as a programmer for a plumbing company." They cannot say you cannot work as a developer, because that is your profession, therefore unenforceable in every court.
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#15 BenignDesign   User is offline

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Re: Who owns the rights to my work?

Posted 13 February 2020 - 10:17 AM

Sadly, non-competes are both legal and enforceable in Pennsylvania as long as the geographic and time restrictions are considered to be "reasonable." The entire country was unreasonable; the entire state of Pennsylvania, not unreasonable.
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