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.