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NDAs and intellectual Property

Joel, you site has been gold for those of us professionals hacking our way to retirement. One thing Id like you to share here is the NDA or non-compete agreements you had to sign for Microsoft. Or a generalization. I just want to know how thick the document was. But in a more general sense, how can contract or fulltimers expect to "build a toolkit" unless they take a few lines of code in their brains as they walk  out the door. Remember the stink with Apple, Intel, quicktime and VFW? Same guy moving employers wasnt it?

if youd like to make a call...
Tuesday, October 16, 2001

Back in the day the whole thing fit on one page.

There was a 1-year non-compete, which I later regretted. (Basically, it completely prevented me from working in my field for a year, because Microsoft basically considers the entire high-tech industry their competitors. Of course Microsoft rarely enforces this, only when it suits them.)

I have no objections to NDAs. Just non-competes.

Joel Spolsky
Wednesday, October 17, 2001

There are plenty of folks who would assert that the net effect of most NDAs is the same as non-competes.

Anon Lover
Wednesday, October 17, 2001

The two NDA/Non-compete document I had to sign were about 8 pages each. In the first one, the non-compete clause was for 1 year and 6 months in the latter.

After I left the first job, the company threatened me with the non-compete clause and I was afraid.  It took me a couple of months to figure out what to do. After consulting with an attorney, I was reassured that very few judges  enforce non-compete clause when you need to work to pay your bills. Just don't work on a product that is in direct competition to project of your previous job and avoid directly recruiting your ex-colleagues.

As for NDA and code library, well, you were paid to do the job.  If you want to keep your code, you should negotiate that before taking the job and have it written down in your agreement/contract, otherwise, it's likely not your property.

If you're one of the lucky that has pilled up millions from stock options, then the non-compete clause will likely apply to you; especially if you were an executive. Otherwise, you shouldn't be too much concerned about the non-compete clause, especially after 6months.

my 2 cents.

JF Huard
Wednesday, October 17, 2001

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