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J.Hazelbaker
J.Hazelbaker, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 4385
Experience:  Attorney and small business owner with 10 years experience in the general practice of law.
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I started a web-based (for now) start-up before employment.

Resolved Question:

I started a web-based (for now) start-up before employment. My current company's core business has nothing to do with the web but I was employed to manage all on-line activities including a future web-based service. The vertical for my startup is completely different (weddings vs chemicals). Will the company have any claim to my startup? I might have checked the start-up site or sent some emails using the company PC (not email address though). Will I have to notify them about this and what kind of form can I have them sign? I did not sign any non-compete or any assignment of IP rights.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  J.Hazelbaker replied 4 years ago.

J.Hazelbaker :

Hello. Thank you for using JustAnswer.

J.Hazelbaker :

As long as the company is not related to your current employer's business and you did not start/maintain it with your employer's resources, then your employer would have no right to claim an ownership interest.

J.Hazelbaker :

You must be careful not to spend any company time engaging in work for the side business.

J.Hazelbaker :

A few emails and web hits on the company PC isn't going to matter, but, going forward ,you should avoid that as much as possible.

J.Hazelbaker :

As long as you can show that you used your own funds/resources to start the company and that the start occurred before your current employment, I would not be concerned.

J.Hazelbaker :

However, I also would not want the company to sign any forms, as I would not want to alert them to the issue. There's no reason to alert them and doing so might indicate to them, falsely, that there is a reason.

J.Hazelbaker :

Please let me know what follow-up questions you have. If my above responses have been helpful, please click Accept so that I get credit for the time/effort. You may always restart the thread and ask follow-up questions at any time by clicking the “Reply” button at the bottom of the question/answer thread. You can access this thread later in your profile under the “My Questions” tab.

Customer:

I am based in Pennsylvania and would like to know applicability there. Lastly, I can't help but maybe send out a few emails during work time using my smartphone. Is this okay?

J.Hazelbaker :

Yes. The above analysis is based on Pennsylvania law.

J.Hazelbaker :

As long as you use your own equipment and personal email address, that is fine.

J.Hazelbaker :

The amount of time devoted to personal work during your employer's time can become significant, but you are indicating that it wouldn't.

J.Hazelbaker :

This, in addition to the facts that you started the company prior to employment, it is unrelated to employer's core business, and you don't use employer's resources in starting/maintaining the personal business activity means that the employer has no legal right to assert against your separate and personal business interests.

J.Hazelbaker :

Please let me know what follow-up questions you have. If my above responses have been helpful, please click Accept so that I get credit for the time/effort. You may always restart the thread and ask follow-up questions at any time by clicking the “Reply” button at the bottom of the question/answer thread. You can access this thread later in your profile under the “My Questions” tab.

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