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Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 4634
Experience:  23 Years business & securities law, NY and FL bars. SEC all states.
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I worked in NV for a franchise company and I suggested my idea

Customer Question

I worked in NV for a franchise company and I suggested my idea to create an online training workshop to educate franchisees about what I know how to do. Later, all team members were asked to do this. I observed that some franchisees were taking the workshops I created and hosting their own live, offline workshops for their own clients (which were other business owners) for a profit.

At this point, I stopped my workshops because I'd learned that something called work for hire means that an employer owns any content their employee creates. I thought that, as long as I didn't use any content I'd already created for my then-employer, I could create my own online workshop product and sell it to the public. Here are my questions:

1.) If I conceived, but did not create content, for my former employer is there any way they can still own it (like calling it a derivative work)?
2.) If I dont solicit franchisees, but they contact me for services or products, does that violate a non-compete?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  FLCORPLAWYER replied 7 years ago.
Your former employer owns what you conceived as well as what you actually provided content for while you were working for them. It violates the non-compete to offer your own workshops, even if you do not solicit the clients and they come to you. By the way, the courts have already ruled that using social networking sites is a form of solicitation in instances like this. proceed with great caution.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
What type of lawyer would I need if I chose to proceed? And does it matter that the former employer no longer possesses nor uses my content? Why does it violate the non-compete to host my own workshops if the content thereof does not compete with their business? For instance, if they are an IT franchise company (which they are not) and I created workshops about marketing (which is not what they do) why would that be competition for them? Lastly, other than just getting another job, is there any way in which I could my own knowledge (that I didn't gain at their company) for my own benefit?
Expert:  FLCORPLAWYER replied 7 years ago.
If your content does not compete with their business then that would not violate the non-compete. You gave me the impression in your question that you were providing services to their franchisees in the same areas that they do.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Ok, now I'm a little confused so, for clarification, I'll stop speaking hypothetically so I can be clear on what you're saying.

1. They were a business coaching franchise, I made workshops about online marketing for their own practices, then their business coaches (the franchisees) started hosting online marketing workshops for their own clients which was never the franchisor's intent. The franchisor was my employer. Now I want to host online marketing workshops of my own, which is not part of the franchisor's business model even if the franchisees are doing it (some of them, not all of them). So, if this is more clear, would my own workshops be violate a non-compete or no?

2. As above, if the franchisees contact me for services, they would be asking me do online marketing for them. Does this violate the non-compete? I did not contact them on social networks after my employment, they were connected to me on those social networks prior to me parting ways with my former employer.

3. If I want to proceed what type of lawyer would I need to consult with in this matter?
Expert:  FLCORPLAWYER replied 7 years ago.
I would consult a lawyer who specializes in intellectual property law. Since what we are basically talking about here is "content". Based on what you have told me I do not think you are violating a non-compete clause.
FLCORPLAWYER and 3 other Business Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Thank you!
Expert:  FLCORPLAWYER replied 7 years ago.
You are welcome. Good luck.