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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.