All your Ideas
August 14, 2002 11:30 AM   Subscribe

All your Ideas are belong to US. What happens when you agree that your inventions belong to your employer, even when you aren't done inventing them yet? Why, they sue you!
posted by dwivian (14 comments total)
Should that be "idea" singular?
posted by revbrian at 11:33 AM on August 14, 2002

I was hoping to one day compile all my MetaFilter posts into a book, but apparently they belong to my boss.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 11:36 AM on August 14, 2002

the fact that this case has come as far as it has scares the bejeebus (is that a word?) out of me.
if the judgement against this guy is upheld the implications are truly staggering; every idea i have at work belongs to my employer. 1984 here we come.
more details can be found here
posted by dolface at 11:39 AM on August 14, 2002

When I did a copyright course a while ago, it was explained to me that under British law if you come up with an idea while with one employer but only implement it when with another or on your own then the first employer can sue. Doesn't matter if you offered it to the first employer or not. If it can be proved you came up with it on the employers time then it belongs to them.
posted by Summer at 11:43 AM on August 14, 2002

I recently read a book where the main character had his memory wiped by electro-stimulus (Countdown to Zero). While electro-stimulus may not be the easiest method, Evan Brown could take Benzodiazepines or Rohypnol to get the same results.

That would be a great way of shafting the man. Let them win the trial, and then announce that you took drugs to erase your memory, therefore deleting the idea in the first place.

Of course, Brown would probably wonder why he did it afterwards, but that's kinda the point.
posted by DragonBoy at 11:51 AM on August 14, 2002

I like the way you think DragonBoy, but I don't recall why.
posted by ElvisJesus at 12:27 PM on August 14, 2002

After this job, I'll always alter employment contracts to edit this portion out. If they do not accept my changes, I won't work there. I don't want anyone to own my brain.
posted by SpecialK at 12:28 PM on August 14, 2002

I think in certain states you have to be permitted to alter the contract so that they do not own all of your inventions & creative ideas, as long as they are unrelated to what you do where you work. Or something.

I saw a big long boring clause about this on an employee agreement booklet for a company I was interviewing with, but as they did not hire me, I did not get to the point where I asked any questions about the agreement. (I was planning to ask though. We had just covered these sneaky agreements in one of my courses and I was determined not to get screwed out of rights to my terrible poetry).
posted by catfood at 1:10 PM on August 14, 2002

After this job, I'll always alter employment contracts to edit this portion out.

Or perhaps you should insist that the clause be changed so that the company must create whatever inventions you think up. Hello caffinated donuts!
posted by Shadowkeeper at 3:06 PM on August 14, 2002

Great. Now when people ask me if I am really serious in my objections to the very concept of intellectual property, I'll have another place to point them to see why I feel that way. I would live on the streets before signing a contract like that, even if I planned on releasing the ideas to the public domain.

But in all seriousness, how can they enforce this? If he decided not to tell regardless, could he be charged with theft? Of course he can never do anything with the idea as long as this stupidity continues, but he can't be forced to relinquish it.
posted by Nothing at 4:11 PM on August 14, 2002

I have an idea about bombing the whitehouse. Does that make my employer a terrorist organisation?
posted by Neale at 4:49 PM on August 14, 2002

No. But that post will make you the victim of an upcoming Secret Service raid.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 4:53 PM on August 14, 2002

Neale, I thought I remembered you from somewhere...
posted by boomchicka at 7:26 PM on August 14, 2002

posted by Shadowkeeper at 10:41 AM on August 20, 2002

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