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Ask HN: What's the standard approach to IP clauses in employment contracts?
7 points by apawloski 1772 days ago | hide | past | web | 2 comments | favorite
As one of the many students starting to consider offers for after graduation, I have some questions about the industry standards regarding certain clauses I've seen in a few contracts. (I'm considering various consulting positions, but am also an active developer on multiple open-source projects.)

These IP clauses usually say something to the effect of "Any and all writings, inventions, improvements, processes, procedures, and/or techniques which I may make, conceive, discover or develop, during the term of employment with <firm> ... shall be the sole and exclusive property of <firm>."

Is this normal / Do people normally submit to this? The projects I'm involved in are GPL (which should mean tough-luck for the employer), but I don't want to give up any ideas/projects I might have in the near future.<p>Can anyone give me some insight?

Don't sign it unless you mean it. I wouldn't. If that clause is enforceable (which varies by state), the copyright to your code is assigned to your employer as soon as you write it, so you have no right to contribute it to the GPL project. If you don't have that right but contribute anyway, the project would be infringing on your employer's copyrights. Not a great situation to put them in.


You should make sure the clause protects your right to work on side projects on your own time, using your own equipment, without having to assign it to the employer. Most clauses will have this built-in; if yours doesn't, you should contact a lawyer to get the correct language for your state / jurisdiction. Most employers would consider this reasonable, and this is / was the default language in my current employment contract.

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