I am in another camp. Until recently my employer had a policy of treating our devices somewhat like private devices. We are provided with the device, are allowed to use them at home at will, are full admins. We are only requested to encrypt the harddrive. My employee never had access to my data if I did not provide it to them.
So now two situations changed. Clients of ours force us to use endpoint management to ensure different "security" standards (some not as secure as I had before). Also we got bought by a bigger company and they have rules and regulations for their ~470k employees. These mean we will get some hefty spyware on our devices while still being officially allowed to take the devices home with us, use them privately and so on.
Well. I am not so sure, I will do this in the future. I am not willing to introduce spyware that also scans all devices within the network to my home network. I do not want some admin on the other side of the world to be able to download any file from my device. Or to upload any file onto my device.
So I will probably buy another computer (not having owned a private laptop for quite some time) to use at home. Same with my mobile phone.
On the other hand - I hate to carry two devices with me. For me separating out private/freelance stuff onto one machine and corporate stuff onto another makes things more complicated. And I know convenience kills security.
Sorry for my rant, without providing much to the discussion. I mean - it is my work device and my employer is within their full right to install whatever they wish - once the works council agrees.
Who owns the rights to IP developed on these company-owned laptops? One of the biggest problems with this kind of ‘unspoken flexibility’ is that any side projects you work on are in-part owned by the company, under most standard agreements.
I would not work for a company that would try to ensure it owns all of what I do outside of company time.
> I would not work for a company that would try to ensure it owns all of what I do outside of company time.
You might want to read the laws governing this, notably the "Gesetz über Arbeitnehmererfindungen" (https://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/arbnerfg/) It's fairly short and clear. Work contracts often don't mention that because a lot of what you can invent is already owned by your employer by law.
Notably everything that can be patented and primarily results from your work or your or your experience at work:
(1) Erfindungen von Arbeitnehmern im Sinne dieses Gesetzes können gebundene oder freie Erfindungen sein.
(2) Gebundene Erfindungen (Diensterfindungen) sind während der Dauer des Arbeitsverhältnisses gemachte Erfindungen, die entweder
1. aus der dem Arbeitnehmer im Betrieb oder in der öffentlichen Verwaltung obliegenden Tätigkeit entstanden sind oder
2. maßgeblich auf Erfahrungen oder Arbeiten des Betriebes oder der öffentlichen Verwaltung beruhen.
The rules apply independent of which device you're using though. Compensation might differ slightly, but the rules around that are longer than the law itself :)
I recommend § 18 and § 19 of said "Gesetz über Arbeitnehmererfindungen". They state that inventions that are clearly not done on the employers payroll (to paraphrase this) are so called free (you have to enable your employer to make that call and you could dispute him, if he tries to claim said invention) (§§18).
But you need to enable your employer to use said (free) invention with reasonable terms - but you dictate the terms (§§19). Your employer can dispute the conditions and a court of law then has to decide.
So clearly this law does not enable your employer to claim nearly every invention you could make in your free time.
At least as far as my understanding goes. But I might be totally wrong here. I am somewhat out of my experience here.
The problem in IT is that depending on what you do, everything might be related to a varying degree.
Would be interested to hear about specific court decisions!
In general, this topic is not quite so clear, even in Germany. For a contrary argumentation, have a look at: https://www.lieb-online.com/files/luxe/publikationen/Urheber... (covers both Urheberrecht and Patentrecht, 15 pages, argues seemingly mostly in favour of the employer, but that does not mean they are wrong)
Keywords to search for, if you don't have the time now to read it as a whole:
- Freizeitwerk / freiwilliges Werk (it's a difference! but just because you do something in your freetime it is not necessarily a Freizeitwerk, in case your job is to produce such works and it could be of use to your employer, this is arguably not the case)
- Beweislast (just because you say or mean it to be unrelated to work, does not automatically mean it is -- side note: the bigger your employer, the less you can know about what is in their interest or not)
- Anbietungspflicht (describes the case using work ressources / work time)
- Pflicht zur Anbietung (for the free time stuff which is not "totally unrelated to the interests of your employer" -- so "automatic transition of usage rights via contract" is indeed suspicious and likely to be undermined in court, but they have a say if they want it)
Sounds somewhat like slavery indeed. ;)
See for example: https://www.joelonsoftware.com/2016/12/09/developers-side-pr...
The possibility of companies disagreeing is why I keep my work and private life completely separate, and the online portion of the latter does not even use my name nor anything that could be associated with my "offline" identity.
That's a good question, and only answerable by checking what you've signed and what the laws in your jurisdiction are.
Some of the agreements, even in the US, are pretty aggressive about grabbing as much IP from an employee as possible.
Yeah - if I am really, really in a tight spot financially - for as long as it takes to crawl out of such a mess - ok. But regularly? Long term?
Help me to understand.
And I also do not understand how a company could find this morally acceptable to have this idea.
I mean is this really the norm in the US?
The outrage is a bit funny, because that's actually the law in Germany. It doesn't even need to be in the contract. (1) And if you think about it, it makes sense: Otherwise every employee who finds something patentable during working hours just clocks out, goes home and invents it "on his own time." And that would be a problem for an employer, too. So the deal is "employer pays you, and gets first dibs on whatever you invent in the general area that the employer pays you to work in."
I'd rather get paid more today than take a lower salary with the potential to possibly, if I'm really lucky, strike gold with my own invention.
I’m paraphrasing an attorney’s explanations so I can’t cite the code.
Legal precedence around IP ownership - when you've used company-owned machines - is far less clear.
I’m basing this on you mentioning being in Germany and company size. Off topic, but I just went down a small rabbit hole of employers with >400k employees and there’s not many, most of them are either state owned/militaries (I’m assuming Russia’s Gasprom doesn’t have many German employees) or Walmart/McDonald’s (which has far more employees than 470k).
For anyone interested I guessed based on this article.
In the EU I would seriously doubt that your employer is allowed to do this.
Sadly they are. At least as far as any lawyer on this topic currently stated.
I get it. My employer provided phone is a Blackberry Leap.
If so, that should be all my employer expects of me when I'm provided with a company phone. I can't imagine what they would want me to do that would require a smartphone. Anything more complicated would be better accomplished on a laptop.
But there's more to it than that. I can't use the browser to look work-related things up because the blackberry browser hasn't been updated in years. I end up using my own device which defeats the purpose.
1 - some employees do not read policies (despite some really explicit training during onboarding) and disable the password so they don't have to type it during login;
2 - apple software is hot shit and somehow filevault disabled itself on an employee laptop. I'm 100% sure that it was previously enabled. It required multiple support calls, an OS reinstall, and a full machine wipe performed at an apple store to get it re-enabled, so I believe the employee who says he didn't disable it.
Either way, I had to install an mdm to make sure that there always is a password on the machine, a lockout time, and filevault enabled. That mdm, unfortunately, gives me far more control than I want, but there's nothing I can do about that; it's a package deal. I'd prefer not to install them, but one idiot disabling passwords, even after very specific training, because it's inconvenient to type them ruined it for everyone.
And the answer roughly comes down to (1) it trained me out of trusting, even in a small shop; and (2) now that I know these things happen, I have to protect against them. If I abuse what the mdm gives me, I expect my employees to fire me. ie quit.