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Topic Title: Copyright of ideas partially developed whilst in employment.
Topic Summary: Can you then further develop these ideas in subsequent employment or self employment/
Created On: 26 April 2013 10:17 AM
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 26 April 2013 10:17 AM
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sparkingchip

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Suppose you are working for a organisation as an employee and start to develop an assessment based purely on your own ideas, your manager supports the idea and assists by getting graphics prepared. However there is then a change of management and the new boss states the idea is flawed and buries it.

Several years later you become self employed and would like to commercially develop the assessment for yourself with new graphics.

If you publish the assessment and make it successful could your former employer come back with a claim on you?

Andy
 26 April 2013 10:23 AM
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briandoherty

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I'd say this will depend almost entirely on the terms of your then contract (anyone even remembers / still has them after all this time)...

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Regards,

Brian
 26 April 2013 10:27 AM
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OMS

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Generally, yes.

Anything you do for your employer remains thier intellectual property.

Whether they would notice in your case is debateable but it's a risk you run if you proceed.

I do know of one instance that went legal when an employee, having left a company, further developed a concept he had been paid to do as an employee - his former employer was pretty cute and let him spend lots of his time and money before dropping the legal hammer on him and "recovered" thier (intellectual) property which turned out to be a commercial success (for them)

OMS

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Failure is always an option
 26 April 2013 10:59 AM
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sparkingchip

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Hmmm!

What I am coming up with is there is no copyright on the idea, it is its presentation that is the issue.

http://www.ipo.gov.uk/types/co...ership/c-employer.htm

Where are the lateral thinkers when you need them?

Andy
 26 April 2013 11:07 AM
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potential

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Originally posted by: sparkingchip

Suppose you are working for a organisation as an employee and start to develop an assessment based purely on your own ideas, your manager supports the idea and assists by getting graphics prepared. However there is then a change of management and the new boss states the idea is flawed and buries it.



Several years later you become self employed and would like to commercially develop the assessment for yourself with new graphics.



If you publish the assessment and make it successful could your former employer come back with a claim on you?



Andy

Well, of course they can, it was their work and remains their work whether they used it or not..
They paid you to do it, you used their resources, staff and time to do it.
 26 April 2013 11:16 AM
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sparkingchip

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So a young professional shouldn't put too many ideas forward in written or other media then, as the idea is theirs until recorded.

Andy
 26 April 2013 01:13 PM
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ectophile

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Originally posted by: sparkingchip

So a young professional shouldn't put too many ideas forward in written or other media then, as the idea is theirs until recorded.



Andy


I suspect your career as a professional might be quite short if you spent all your time sitting at your desk pondering, but never actually writing anything down.

-------------------------
S P Barker BSc PhD MIET
 26 April 2013 05:03 PM
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Legh

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I think, as stated, it starts with a contractual arrangement. Most colleges have a clause that states either all developed ideas / materials belong to the college or the copyright is shared.
This AFAIK is because much of the course development takes place at home, lesson plans, designs etc. while assessment materials are often done inside work hours.

In college environments there always appeared to be a relaxed attitude, that if you produced something novel it would eventually end up on the open market - i think they regarded it as sharing good practice.

However, this is not strictly business and where the likelihood of dented profits arise due to ambiguity of who did what, i expect the rules to be biased towards the employer. and would be considered as part of your contractual obligation.

Legh

-------------------------
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 26 April 2013 07:04 PM
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stateit

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Past contracts of mine have included phrases precluding the use of information ...

information in the form of .... online or offline and by any technical means not yet invented or realised.


That fairly buttons it up!

[edit] And one contract precluding the use of information on this planet or extraterrestrially!! (That was for a company with contracts with European Space Agency)[/edit]

-------------------------
S George
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 26 April 2013 07:32 PM
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sparkingchip

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Fair enough,if you work for a company and are then headhunted by another company you can't then hand the new employer the original employers business.

However the first employer can't own your ideas that are still forming in your head during and after you cease employment with them and the new employer, albeit yourself, hired you on the basis of the work you have already done with the expectation of similar and better work from you in the future.

So what's the cut off at change of employment? When do you become your own person?

For example, should a college electrical lecturer write completely new teaching notes and powerpoints at a change of employer or just change the logos assuming that the lecturer had prepared them all themselves rather than using college stock notes and resources?

Andy
 26 April 2013 07:47 PM
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OMS

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Andy - if you are already coming up with these specific strategies you need legal advice.

Basically anything that was developed for your employer remains the property of your employer for ever - even if there is no formal term in your employment contract - the court would see that as implied and part of common law.

There are time limits and certain categories that are subject to legal process. You'd be suprised however what your employer or former employer does own - I work in a "knowledge" business and my contract is crystal clear - as is that of my clients if I develop an idea for them

regards

OMS

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Failure is always an option
 26 April 2013 08:28 PM
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sparkingchip

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The issue in my OP is that the new boss buried the idea, had it been fully developed the the person who had the idea could have had the recognition for coming up with the idea even though they don't have the copyright. But it could be considered that by burying it the ex boss has blighted the creators career by removing a achievement from their CV and also stopped the idea from competing from their own rival ideas.
 26 April 2013 10:26 PM
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ectophile

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Originally posted by: sparkingchip

The issue in my OP is that the new boss buried the idea, had it been fully developed the the person who had the idea could have had the recognition for coming up with the idea even though they don't have the copyright. But it could be considered that by burying it the ex boss has blighted the creators career by removing a achievement from their CV and also stopped the idea from competing from their own rival ideas.


That's just the way it is. If I pay you to take a set of portrait photographs for me, then I'm quite entitled to stuff them in the back of a drawer and never look at them again. You don't get any rights in the photos, unless the contract says so.

The same goes for inventions. If somebody pays you to work on a project, then it's their project. They can develop it into a full marketable product, or dump it as not worth bothering. Their choice.

If you don't like it, go freelance.

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S P Barker BSc PhD MIET
 26 April 2013 11:22 PM
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sparkingchip

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© 2013 sparkingchip

Is that all it takes on a document?
 27 April 2013 05:53 AM
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ebee

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I`m a frayed knot.

If you do indeed have a copyright on something then all "© 2013 sparkingchip " means is that you are informing others that you are aware of your copyright and suggests to them that you tend to enforce it (it`s a put off). It does not, in itself, give you a copyright.

If you do indeed have a copyright then you have it without putting "© 2013 sparkingchip "

If you do not have a copyright then "© 2013 sparkingchip" would not give you one.

Like OMS said - ask for proper legal advice, a bit of cash now could save you (or even make you) a lot of cash in the future.

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Regards,
Ebee (M I S P N)

Knotted cables cause Lumpy Lektrik
 29 April 2013 11:42 AM
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AJJewsbury

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Presumably one option would be to go back to your old employer and offer to buy the rights from them. If they really think it's flawed it's money for old rope for them and they'd be happy to get anything for it.
- Andy.
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