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Why I am taking a break

liukonen profile image Luke Liukonen ・3 min read

It sucks. I've been enjoying my time writing my ideas on a community such as Dev.to, however, I feel like I am being forced to take a break. See, I just had to sign paperwork (as did everyone else) expressing ownership and IP. I do plan on staying at my current location (for now), however, this is definitely a strike against them, as the documentation indicated that they had the right to my IP, and any open source work I worked on would also need their blessing before being distributed. Now, I am wise enough to know not to work on any personal items on anything they provide. And when I use the equipment, it stays on its own subdomain and connects directly to its network. I won't mix personal with professional. What I do find discouraging, is that there was no verbiage in the contract indicating my own development outside of working hours. The wording around it seemed to indicate that they essentially own all development I do no matter what time of day. I signed off on it anyway assuming what most do... development time outside of work is not the same as at home, and if I have an idea that has nothing to do with the industry I work in, I'm safe. That said, Google, as with all things, put the fear of God into me as I read story after story of companies (not the one I am currently working at!) suing and going after IP of developers and engineers who worked on their side hustles. I'm sure if I talk with my direct manager, he would be more than ok with what I work on... that's not the issue... it's always when things change, and all the work you put into your own projects somehow gets swallowed up by some new manager who thinks that somehow your Red Square will magically fit the hole of the triangle and tries taking credit for your work (again, not saying where I am working... horror stories on Reddit and other forums are enough for me). So while I will be passively reading new and interesting things on this forum, my contributions are now going to have to be limited to reading and the comments section.

Where does that leave my Github?
That is still up for debate I guess. All my work can be dated back well before I started working at this new place, and all have licenses attached to them. For now, I feel I am safe leaving my work open and available, however, I refuse to leave it as "abandonware". Meaning all my work will receive any needed patches and bug fixes. That said, again, this stays off the company computers. It is hard to say where it goes though... there might be one day I am asked to remove it or somehow give the IP rights to code I wrote almost 20 years ago to them.

How did we get to this point?
I, unfortunately, have no idea how we let our IP, our thoughts, become the ownership of a company... especially during the time we are not working. Again... have to stress this enough!, NotMyCompanyYet... however, there have been, and will be cases where a company decides that they want ownership of something one of their employees do in their free time. Imagine if MITS wouldn't have allowed Bill Gates and Paul Allen to have their partnership Micro-Soft... or if HP would have not let Steve Wozniak work on his one-off computers where we would be today. At some point, we let the companies take control and we look to them as being the innovators while in reality, a company is only as strong as the employees that work there. And while I'm sure MITS and HP would have loved to have "thought of it back then".. the truth is, many of us, most of us, have fantastic ideas... and some of these ideas could and might be the next big thing! However, when put in a circumstance where our ideas are not our own, but that of a company, many of us will just not do it! We know that they will distort and twist the original vision to fit the mold of what they want. Removing its oringal purpose and leaving it an empty shell of something that could have been better. And with a trend of underappreciation and not having recognition of one's work (Again Not my company)(I have worked at many crap jobs during my college days to know that many companies do NOT care about you, only what you can do for them) how many of us will have our brilliant idea, only to not run with it, holding everyone back in the process.

Discussion (2)

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samuelroland profile image
Samuel Roland • Edited

Hey, it sucks a lot! I'm not sure to have understood all the context, but why can't you just leave your job (didn't understand if it's an old or new job)?
But actually, to turn this situation into new learning, what could be this learning according to you? How can we recognize which company is doing this kind of IP stealing? How can we make sure we will not fall in this situation too ?

(PS: Thanks for you article. I'm Swiss and speak french, so English is not my mother tongue sorry).

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liukonen profile image
Luke Liukonen Author

You are good! I just started at this company, and I want to give it a shot with them. The area I live in does not have a ton of tech jobs, and they are paying me well. The truth is, many larger companies have these kinds of terms while working for them. But I agree, it would be good to know this upfront before starting.

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