Hacker News new | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

This is standard practice in most default employment contracts, including literally every single one I've signed as an employee. It's in our employer contract too, and we've all signed it.

I usually include, as one of the disclosed items, something along the lines of "other open source or business ideas I may come up with or have come up with on personal time and while using personal, non-company, property."

One of our employees did this too, and I took no issue with it. My guess is if you have an employer suing you for infringement based on work you did there, you have burned a bridge and have much bigger problems than just this lawsuit.

Edit: IANAL, this is not legal advice, etc.

This is standard practice in most default employment contracts

Where I come from, it is also fairly standard practice for anyone who is any good at all to seek to amend such loaded terms before signing the contract. Just because it's in the default contract that the company lawyers wrote, that doesn't mean you have to actually accept it unchallenged.

Yeah, I've done this about 4 times now just with this one specific clause.

Companies keep giving me these contracts. I keep saying no. So far, no company has ever made their job offer contingent upon signing away every idea I come up with in the shower. The day that happens I will walk, though.

One thing I have noticed, though, is that it is a pretty reliable red flag, because it means one of two things:

* They don't read their own contracts (one employer actually seemed surprised when I read the clause back to him). Sign of incompetence.

* They are actually unreasonable people. Strong likelihood they will try to fuck you over in lots of ways.

One thing I have noticed, though, is that it is a pretty reliable red flag

That's been my experience as well. In fact, towards the end of the period when I worked as an employee, this became one of my go-to tests about whether to accept a job offer.

Yes, that's also true. It doesn't mean the company will accept the redlines or spend their counsel's time dealing with it, but completely appropriate to try and challenge it.

I've been doing this stuff professionally for some number of decades. To my knowledge, I have literally never encountered a company that stood by such a loaded term and lost their would-be new hire over it. On the few occasions I've had to raise the issue myself, the response has invariably been that the responsible manager thought it was a reasonable thing to negotiate and we quickly settled on a more balanced alternative. No doubt there are exceptions out there somewhere, because as you say the company isn't required to negotiate seriously, but for any but the most junior hires in the most employer-friendly market conditions, I find it hard to see most companies aborting an otherwise successful hiring process over something petty like this.

> I have literally never encountered a company that stood by such a loaded term and lost their would-be new hire over it

Not to discount your experience, but I actually just had this happen. I wound up walking away from an otherwise nice offer because they weren't willing to budge on their "we own everything you do, inside or outside of work" clause.

So while it may be rare, it does happen.

I'm sorry to see that. There are always a few exceptions on these kinds of issues. For what it's worth, unless you really are in a desperate position, my usual conclusion is that you're probably better off for walking away as you did in this situation. A company that not only puts that kind of term in the default agreement but then also refuses to budge over it seems a high risk of trouble later from an employee's point of view.

Fortunately, I wasn't desperate, so I had the advantage of being able to walk away. And I agree with you - I think that ultimately I dodged a bullet.

It's a shame, though - I think I would have had a lot of fun working there and believe I would have made good contributions to the team. I'm disappointed, but I consider it their loss. Oh well.

Oh, I agree. We would certainly rather negotiate / find a workaround than lose an employee. With that said, all I mean is it isn't required. I have seen companies not want to negotiate or find a workaround.

Honestly? Most employees just sign the damn thing. Including me, with the caveat that I posted in the above comment. It's easier than dealing with redlining a contract. 'patio11, below, seems to do something similar.

Honestly? Most employees just sign the damn thing.

Sure, I understand that.

This is why I favour regulation/legislation to protect employees who don't understand or won't be aware of the implications. As with consumer protection legislation, you often have a substantial imbalance in power between an employer and an employee, starting with the fact that the employer is usually the one writing the first cut of the employment contract and it often gets treated like a standard form contract in practice. I think it is therefore reasonable to limit the amount of sneaky things that are enforceable if they're included in the small print on page 74.

This is also why I recommend everyone in our industry (and most others) to have any proposed employment contract reviewed by an actual lawyer before agreeing to it.

Where do you come from?


I've done the same in the U.S. In my experience, employers would rather amend these terms than see a potential new employee turn them down.

Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact