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Old 04-17-2012, 03:23 PM
 
10,875 posts, read 41,210,243 times
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SSparkle,

Unfortunately, I cannot name the names of the companies or the people involved in more recent examples I know of in these situations due to it being privileged information in most of these situations.

However, I can mention that a lot of people working for little companies like MSoft sign contracts such as I have described and which you deride as being for the gullible. I know of one person who worked for them who has 6 patent plaques awarded to him on his home office wall ... and received handsome compensation from the company due to their value added in their product line when they took ownership of the patents. However, had he retained ownership of those patents and sold them to the company, he'd have made many millions more from their applications. As it was, he made multi-millions from MSoft and I'm told was drawing a 7-figure salary from them at the time he retired at a very young age from them. Suffice to say that he did very well by them, in his retirement years he's able to give multi-millions to charitable causes each year; I don't think he was a fool for having signed over the ownership rights to whatever product he independently developed. Yet another worked for a small IT company developing food process equipment and pursued his interest in electronic games on the side; he developed one game which they brought to the marketplace due to their ownership and it got the attention of a little company called Sony. He was hired by Sony to be one of their games developers and currently is pulling down over 7 figures per year but all of his work product is owned by Sony ... no matter how it relates to his company time or products. Sizable enough examples for you?

I can mention one family friend, now long deceased ... who was living with my parents when he independently developed a product at home, using some of my Dad's machinist skills. Wilson Moore, while working for Collins in their radio interference engineering department ... invented an electronic keyer and the patents associated with it became the standard of the industry at the time. His employment contract specified that anything he developed during the course of his employment was the property of Collins Radio, and he commented frequently in later years that if he'd owned that patent, he'd have been able to have retired at a rather early age. Collins made a lot of money off of his independent product development. What I find interesting about this is the employment contract concept of ownership of any work product developed during the time of employment is not a new concept by any means ... this was stuff that was common in the engineering business all the way back to post WW2 era professional employment contracts. I know that my Dad, while working for a little company called The Consolidated-Vultee Aircraft Company .... later named the Convair division of General Dynamics, independently developed (along with a couple of his buddies) a patented mechanism for deploying the fins of guided aerial bombs and G-D owned the patent after all the work that my Dad had done to perfect (and patent) the device. I've got the patent doc's here in my office among the memorabilia from my Dad's estate ... and my Dad was paid $1 for the patent by G-D. I don't know if there was any profits made by G-D off of the patent, but it occupied my Dad for years to develop it and the device was proven to be effective in actual testing.

Your personal experience with these situations apparently varies from mine, and you appear to be willing to be devious about how you'd pursue your new business or work product. Others, however, do sign the types of contracts that have these clauses in them as terms of their employment and do have professional ethics about it. They aren't fools, they know what the terms of their employment are and that they are typical in their company and market.

The main point of my posts for the OP still remains: They need to review the terms of their employment contract to be sure that there's no conflict presenting for their new work product. I've seen these types of situations move along where the employer owned rights but didn't assert them until such time as the employee developed and successfully marketed a product which then appeared to have substantial value. At that point, the lawyers had a field day and the courts got to determine who really owned what ... and who was going to profit. Fair and equitable don't necessarily equate to legal obligations agreed to by responsible parties.

Last edited by sunsprit; 04-17-2012 at 03:56 PM..
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Old 04-18-2012, 09:27 AM
 
3,252 posts, read 6,070,972 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunsprit View Post
SSparkle,

Unfortunately, I cannot name the names of the companies or the people involved in more recent examples I know of in these situations due to it being privileged information in most of these situations.

That is absolutely fair. I can't disclose much either.

However, I can mention that a lot of people working for little companies like MSoft sign contracts such as I have described and which you deride as being for the gullible.

I did not say they were gullible, just were willing to sign a contract that is extremely constricting.

I know of one person who worked for them who has 6 patent plaques awarded to him on his home office wall ... and received handsome compensation from the company due to their value added in their product line when they took ownership of the patents.

Though the places I worked (some didn't even give you $1), you were handsomely rewarded in other ways (like stock options). Try this one: options at $0.03, two 3-for-one splits, and then the stock goes to $300. Ever sailed in a J-135? No one cares.

However, had he retained ownership of those patents and sold them to the company, he'd have made many millions more from their applications. As it was, he made multi-millions from MSoft and I'm told was drawing a 7-figure salary from them at the time he retired at a very young age from them. Suffice to say that he did very well by them, in his retirement years he's able to give multi-millions to charitable causes each year; I don't think he was a fool for having signed over the ownership rights to whatever product he independently developed. Yet another worked for a small IT company developing food process equipment and pursued his interest in electronic games on the side; he developed one game which they brought to the marketplace due to their ownership and it got the attention of a little company called Sony. He was hired by Sony to be one of their games developers and currently is pulling down over 7 figures per year but all of his work product is owned by Sony ... no matter how it relates to his company time or products. Sizable enough examples for you?

This is totally off-topic. My premise is that whatever is developed on company time is owned by the company. Being hired by a company after developing a product is non-sequitor to the discussion.

I can mention one family friend, now long deceased ... who was living with my parents when he independently developed a product at home, using some of my Dad's machinist skills. Wilson Moore, while working for Collins in their radio interference engineering department ... invented an electronic keyer and the patents associated with it became the standard of the industry at the time. His employment contract specified that anything he developed during the course of his employment was the property of Collins Radio, and he commented frequently in later years that if he'd owned that patent, he'd have been able to have retired at a rather early age. Collins made a lot of money off of his independent product development. What I find interesting about this is the employment contract concept of ownership of any work product developed during the time of employment is not a new concept by any means ... this was stuff that was common in the engineering business all the way back to post WW2 era professional employment contracts. I know that my Dad, while working for a little company called The Consolidated-Vultee Aircraft Company .... later named the Convair division of General Dynamics, independently developed (along with a couple of his buddies) a patented mechanism for deploying the fins of guided aerial bombs and G-D owned the patent after all the work that my Dad had done to perfect (and patent) the device. I've got the patent doc's here in my office among the memorabilia from my Dad's estate ... and my Dad was paid $1 for the patent by G-D. I don't know if there was any profits made by G-D off of the patent, but it occupied my Dad for years to develop it and the device was proven to be effective in actual testing.

I know Collins radio well... amateur radio operator here. Good in their day. Tanked in '73, and was bought out by RI.

Your personal experience with these situations apparently varies from mine, and you appear to be willing to be devious about how you'd pursue your new business or work product.

'Devious'? How about a better term, 'business savvy'. I am willing to make a fortune for a company, and work as hard as I can, as long as the company reciprocates.

Others, however, do sign the types of contracts that have these clauses in them as terms of their employment and do have professional ethics about it. They aren't fools, they know what the terms of their employment are and that they are typical in their company and market.

And that is fine. Everyone is free to pick and choose their options for employment. Last job, was free to develop (on my own time) anything I wanted. Personally, I think that is how you get the best talent. Give them lots of free reign. A long time ago, the engineering lab stock was open to all engineers, to go design/invent/build anything they wanted (of course as long as they got their scheduled work done on time). Who knows what an engineer will invent next? Wozniak built his first PC at HP (I sat at his former bench, but he was gone by the time I got there).... management thought the PC idea was not marketable, so he decided to go start some company we have never heard of... Apple.

The main point of my posts for the OP still remains: They need to review the terms of their employment contract to be sure that there's no conflict presenting for their new work product. I've seen these types of situations move along where the employer owned rights but didn't assert them until such time as the employee developed and successfully marketed a product which then appeared to have substantial value. At that point, the lawyers had a field day and the courts got to determine who really owned what ... and who was going to profit. Fair and equitable don't necessarily equate to legal obligations agreed to by responsible parties.

Absolutely agree. Not sure why anyone would independently develop products and not shield themselves through an LLC and not list under someone else's name.
.
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Old 04-23-2012, 02:55 PM
 
1,253 posts, read 4,062,326 times
Reputation: 619
As people on here have stated, check your employment contract first to see who owns what. Some companies are relaxed about this while other make you sign away your life for new inventions. If people are looking for a good court case on this how about the US Supreme Court Case Stanford vs. Roche: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/07/us/07bizcourt.html

Also, if you are looking to write and file your own provisional patent application, there is a free guide and provisional patent template here
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