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Alex Reese
Alex Reese, Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 3106
Experience:  Experienced in intellectual property law
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I've created a program on my free time but the company I work for (California) cl

Customer Question

Hi, I've created a program on my free time but the company I work for (California) claims it belongs to them, although I'm hired as an Engineer and not as a programmer by them. The program is in the same field as the company's activities. The contract states that they own the inventions. Is there a way for me to keep my program??
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Expert:  Alex Reese replied 2 years ago.
hello. no it's unlikely you can get around it. when it comes to regular employees, employers always have language in the employment agreement that holds that they own all IP created by the employee in the scope of their employment and/or made with company time/resources. In this case, your program relates to the field of your company's activities and the contract is clear about their claim to ownership, so I do not see a way for you to keep it aside from negotiating a resolution with them...perhaps they will give you ownership if you give them a license (or vice versus)...but you will likely be at their mercy. best of luck
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks. Even if I started the development two years prior to my employment (I'm not sure how to prove it other than using file dates)?
Expert:  Alex Reese replied 2 years ago.
that could change things and help an argument that the whole thing should be yours...but there are no clear cut rules on that so its definitely in the gray area....and part of that gray area is proving you started it 2 years prior. That fact definitely helps you but its not a slam dunk based on the contract's language (check to see if it says anything about pre-existing works) and the fact that it is within the scope of the employer's business