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I agree in general. And I do not get the BYOD thing. As another commenter said, an employer should provide the tools necessary. Or live with the constraints.

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.




> while still being officially allowed to take the devices home with us, use them privately and so on.

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.


Me being in Germany and clearly not a lawyer. That said: I own all my intellectual property, of everything I develop in my free time on this device. And in Germany, at least as far as I am aware, these broad regulations some US employers try to force on their employees have been thrown out by court decisions. But not sure on that.

I would not work for a company that would try to ensure it owns all of what I do outside of company time.


> Me being in Germany and clearly not a lawyer. That said: I own all my intellectual property, of everything I develop in my free time on this device.

> 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.
You need to be fairly compensated etc., but the employer gets first rights. (and fairly does not necessarily mean market value)

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 :)


> a lot of what you can invent is already owned by your employer by law

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.


You should reread the part I quoted above. It defines the terms used in §18/19: It’s §4(2) https://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/arbnerfg/__4.html it doesn’t talk about payroll or not payroll, it’s all about how related to your work assignment the invention is. The rules and regulations around calculating a fair compensation even grade on that exact metric among other things. So it’s essentially what the work contracts stipulate: inventions related to your work belong to your employer, even if done in your off time.

The problem in IT is that depending on what you do, everything might be related to a varying degree.


> And in Germany, at least as far as I am aware, these broad regulations some US employers try to force on their employees have been thrown out by court decisions. But not sure on that.

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. ;)


Isn't that the case regardless of what laptop you're using? As far as I can tell you should assume any side projects are Copyright (c) your employer unless you talk to legal first and make an arrangement (for each project).

See for example: https://www.joelonsoftware.com/2016/12/09/developers-side-pr...


No, what you do on your own time (not company time) with your own resources can't be owned by the company, because otherwise everything you do would be owned by the company, which is absurd; suppose I went to a friend or relative and helped him/her out by writing a simple script, does that belong to the company now? How about posts you make on HN outside of work (if you do it at work, that's... questionable)?

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.


> [S]uppose I went to a friend or relative and helped him/her out by writing a simple script, does that belong to the company now?

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.


Please see the link I added. You should check your employment contract to see the exact terms of the copyright assignment clause you signed, but it's definitely very common to have to assign any inventions you make that are "related to your employers area of work", regardless of what hardware you use or if you do it in the office or at home.


Well who signs contracts like these? I mean really? And why? I really cannot understand anybody giving away that much of their live for an employer/the next paycheck.

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?


> Well who signs contracts like these? I mean really? And why? I really cannot understand anybody giving away that much of their live for an employer/the next paycheck.

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."

(1) https://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/arbnerfg/index.html


As already answered on another comment. This law does not enable an employer to claim every employees (patentable) invention. Please read the text - especially on the so called free inventions.


This is essentially in line what the article linked and the post to which you responded claims: inventions related to your assigned field of work are claimable.


99% of people sign them. Almost everyone will barely read it. The rest assume that it won't affect them.


A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

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.


Unfortunately it is the norm. (With tech companies)


AFAIK, despite your work contract, CA protects personal projects even done on a company laptop. It just can’t be done on work hours or with a novel tool provided by work.

I’m paraphrasing an attorney’s explanations so I can’t cite the code.


I want to be clear that my question relates to artifacts you produce on company-owned resources - not just in your own time on your own machine.

Legal precedence around IP ownership - when you've used company-owned machines - is far less clear.


If the machine is company owned then the designation is usually whether the artifact or area of work is related to the main course of work. If you freelance in the same industry as your employer, you may have a tough time proving the distinction. Most of these agreements are only enforceable, though, when there's an overlap of work area regardless of who owns the machine. If the company is giving the employee the ability to use the hardware for personal use then the point of the hardware being company-owned is irrelevant to whether the work is being done on behalf of the company and, therefore, owned by the company.


Fortunately, not in California.


Depends. California’s law only applies if you aren’t working in the same business as your employer, which means if you work for any large company you almost certainly can get in trouble with pretty much anything.


I’m going to guess the new employer is Deutsche Post DHL Group?

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. https://www.lovemoney.com/galleries/amp/67573/the-worlds-30-...


> I am not willing to introduce spyware that also scans all devices within the network to my home network.

In the EU I would seriously doubt that your employer is allowed to do this.


> 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.


Why not? It’s a company device, if you don’t want your employer to access your network through it, don’t connect it to your network. You can hardly blame them for administering their own device.


If an employer expected me to use such a device I would assume that they would also pay for me to have a separate internet connection (this could easily be tethering to my work provided mobile data).


If you have a decent router you can just create an isolated network for devices you don’t trust.


Sounds like something I would need my work to pay for...


>And I do not get the BYOD thing.

I get it. My employer provided phone is a Blackberry Leap.


Can it receive calls and read e-mails?

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.


>Can it receive calls and read e-mails?

Barely.

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.


I don't get it. My employer provided phone was a Blackberry Bold. I need a work phone to make and receive work related calls, and to keep work related matters off my personal phone, enabling me to not have to think about work once I leave the office unless someone phones me.


I am the employer in this situation. The problem was that

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.


Why not let go of said idiot and keep the culture as it was? Why ruin it for everybody because of one bad apple? Why punish everybody and send a sign of mistrust to everybody for one idiot?


one idiot, and one serious macos bug (re: disabling filevault)

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.


Yeah that never happened with Microsoft’s Bitlocker


what company has 470k employees?



Amazon had 647,500 as of 2018...


Well the NHS has nearly 1.5 million employees, so I guess there's a few!


My guess is that he is talking about Accenture


I’m also curious about this, I’m guessing DHL because he’s in Germany but Accenture matches up too.




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