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Submitted by scparker on



Question: How to respond to the "everything you do here belongs to us" clause in the contract for prior experience and work?

I am about to accept a job offer and one of the items in the employee manual states that all work done whilst employed is considered "work for hire" and that the company owns it. Yes, I understand how that works and I'm fine with it.

One job item is to teach a certain software package. A major reason I am attractive to this company is my background in teaching the use of this software for several years as both a freelancer and a university professor. Over the years, I have written many lesson plans, learning materials, etc. and I've also been working on a textbook.

The company will want me to create learning materials etc. for the training I do for the company. These will be based on my past experience, etc. How do I pose the concept that my training materials should be exempt from the work for hire clause.

By the way, the company uses this software as part of their process to provide a service to their clients that have nothing to do with the software I will be teaching. For example, teaching MS Office to a pool supply company. Teaching Office is my job, but teaching Office elsewhere would not compete with the selling of pool supplies.

Thanks, Scott

donm's picture
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Have a lawyer draft a clause to protect your interests. This shouldn't cost more than a few hundred dollars. When you go to sign the document, tell them you want to amend it with the clause. If they decline, you have the decision to make as to whether to take the job and lose your work or decline the offer.

mrreliable's picture

Ditto on the advice to hire a lawyer. I was involved in litigation where a former employer was throwing these issues around, and there are lots of legal twists and turns. You're dealing not only with what your legal rights are, but also with practical issues. For example, in our case, the litigation dragged on for a year and a half and was finally settled without a judge or magistrate having ever considered the merits of the case (or lack thereof). We quickly found out how naive we were when we thought, "They can't sue us. We haven't violated any agreements, and we haven't done anything wrong." It didn't matter. Suing people is part of a business strategy for many companies, and the merits have nothing to do with most business litigation.

If this does hit litigation, there's a good chance the legal merits of the case won't have any effect on the outcome. A lawyer will help you identify the danger zones and will help you protect yourself.

scparker's picture
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Hello all,

Thank you for the lawyer advice. I'm checking into it.

Best, Scott