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ScottyMacEsq, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 16332
Experience:  Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
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I was off

Customer Question

I was laid off recently and was asked by employer to return a laptop and thumbdrive. I have no problem returning the laptop. However, the thumbdrive has a program on it that my husband and I built at home on personal time on our personal computer that I used to assist with a yearly function at work. Ownership of document clearly states my husband's and my name. I entered no agreement with my former employer that this would become
their property - nothing was ever signed or agreed upon. Do I have the right to keep what is on this thumbdrive and not return it?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 3 years ago.

ScottyMacEsq :

Thank you for using JustAnswer. I am researching your issue and will respond shortly.

ScottyMacEsq :

Can you tell me if this program (even though on your personal time and computer) was in the course and scope of your employment?

ScottyMacEsq :

Did you see my follow up question to your issue?

ScottyMacEsq :

Should I continue to await your response, or may I assist the other customers that are waiting?

ScottyMacEsq :

My apologies, but I must assist the other customers that are waiting. Once you respond to my follow up question, I will respond as soon as I can. Please note that I may be assisting other customers or otherwise out of the office (depending when you respond). Thank you.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

please .. just received your response. This is a US law question - not an Australian law question. My husband (not an employee) built a budget format template for me to help input numbers on the yearly budget. In all the years I worked there - never signed anything - never paid for time - this is a municipality - no resolution was ever made to make my template a procedure to capture budget. Can I keep this template / can I ask to be compensated for it / sell it .... ??

Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 3 years ago.
Thank you. Yes, I am a US lawyer, not Australian. I can only imagine that someone else accidentally designated this as Australian law, and then I could not get back into the question (because I'm not an Australian law expert). Apologies for the delay. I was contacting the moderators and customer service to try to get this switched over, and only now have been able to respond.

In regards to your situation, you almost certainly could keep this template, if your husband developed it. Since your husband is not an employee, even if you signed a document saying that you were giving up any intellectual rights, that would not bind your husband. But certainly without it, the program / template / method that he comes up with for you or the municipality is his unless he signs over rights to it.

That being said: the physical flash drive itself would not be yours. You could remove the template from it, etc... for your own purposes, but the actual flash drive needs to be returned to the employer. The software on it could be yours, but the hardware (the drive itself) belongs to them just as the computer does.

Hope that clears things up a bit. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer AND press the "submit" button, if applicable. Please note that I don't get any credit for my answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better). Thank you, and good luck to you!