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An employer can easily find grounds to chase you for your strictly post-employment work if it can argue that such work misappropriates its proprietary rights (usually but not necessarily trade secret), whether or not the work you originally did for the employer had commercial value at the time you first did it. Starting with a from-scratch codebase may or may not offer you a shield but likely not - this is because the concept of "trade secrets" is much broader than the code itself and a former employer can (normally) easily argue that you are gaining an unfair competitive advantage from your superior knowledge of the confidential information relating to its proprietary product and that you would be misusing such knowledge (which, by law, belongs to the employer exclusively) in using it to do an allegedly independent implementation. The employer might find it hard to win such a case but this would not stop them from making your life hell for several years as you try to defend yourself from such an assault.

Short answer: there is no absolute defense in the fact of your no longer being employed when you do the allegedly offending activity.

BTW, I don't know enough about the Andreessen or Google examples to comment intelligently on the specifics there.




(sidenote) http://www.grellas.com/acquisitions.html "We are sophisticated enough to help buyers and sellers in such deals valued at many millions of dollars and flexible ENOUGHT to provide cost-effective help for small business deals as well."

The copy on your site needs correcting.




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