Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




demo violates IP agreement?

I have developed some software for my current employer,which I would like to demo to another potential employer to show how it works, no source code or knowledge revelation, just the execution.
Would I be in violation of any IP agreements I signed?
I looked at mine, and no mention of such is made

anon
Thursday, September 11, 2003

Should I drink my water?

 
Thursday, September 11, 2003

> Would I be in violation of any IP agreements I signed?

Uh... you signed them, what do they say?

www.marktaw.com
Thursday, September 11, 2003

nothing on these topics...

anon
Thursday, September 11, 2003

Hmm, I have to say I agree with the replies above.

If you signed the agreement then you should understand what it says. If you signed it without understanding it, you may have bigger problems than this IP issue.

AFAIK most IP clauses mention "executables" (or similar), as well as source code, etc, so using the IP owner's executable to further your own career is likely to be a serious breach. Serious enough to earn yourself an instant dismissal if you worked for me.

Steve Jones (UK)
Thursday, September 11, 2003

So your question is really:  I am about to do something that is potentially illegal and would cost me thousands in court.  I would like the legal opinion of people I don't know, who probably have little or no legal background.

Go talk to a lawyer.  One that will cost you less than $200 to save you from problems that will cost you tens of thousands.  Consider it insurance, because it is.

Simply put: Go talk to a lawyer. Go talk to a lawyer. Go talk to a lawyer. Go talk to a lawyer. Go talk to a lawyer. Go talk to a lawyer. Go talk to a lawyer. Go talk to a lawyer. Go talk to a lawyer. Go talk to a lawyer. Go talk to a lawyer. Go talk to a lawyer. Go talk to a lawyer. Go talk to a lawyer. Go talk to a lawyer. Go talk to a lawyer. Go talk to a lawyer. Go talk to a lawyer. Go talk to a lawyer. Go talk to a lawyer. Go talk to a lawyer. Go talk to a lawyer. Go talk to a lawyer. Go talk to a lawyer. Go talk to a lawyer. Go talk to a lawyer. Go talk to a lawyer.

MSHack
Thursday, September 11, 2003

this is going to be on the web for all people to use soon,with no licenses.
I have built everything from scratch for this prototype, and it might be on the web soon.
I really don't want to do this, but how to convince the potential employer,I really worked on it, and developed the whole thing from scratch?

anon
Thursday, September 11, 2003

Steve, even if you are paid next to nothing to develop the product?

anon
Thursday, September 11, 2003

> Steve, even if you are paid next to nothing
> to develop the product?

So the fact that you didn't come to an agreement for more money somehow justifies potentially breaking a contract?  You should have asked for more when you signed the agreements. 

Joe Blandy
Thursday, September 11, 2003

Oh, well, if you're paid crappily, then that automatically invalidates the IP agreement right there.

*roll eyes*

Kyralessa
Thursday, September 11, 2003

I'm being paid 6$/hr US for this stuff

anon
Thursday, September 11, 2003

> I'm being paid 6$/hr US for this stuff

You should have held out for $7.

Joe Blandy
Thursday, September 11, 2003

If it's going to be available soon anyway, I'd probably go ahead and do it. 

 
Thursday, September 11, 2003

Just because you're being paid 6 USD per hour doesn't automatically grant you the right to ignore the terms of your agreement.

I think you need to grow up. You're not just a kid earning pocket money by cutting grass in the summer vacation.

Sorry if that sounds harsh, but if everyone treated contracts like that, where would we be ?

Steve Jones (UK)
Thursday, September 11, 2003

You'd be in the US.

B#
Thursday, September 11, 2003

1) Talk to a lawyer
2) This is not legal advice
3) IMHO, unless you've signed an actual NDA, then demonstrating software you've developed is not a violation of IP clauses in most contracts. Personally, I would like to see a "portfolio" exception to copyright protections - that the person who created the work has a nontransferable right to demonstrate the work for purposes of showing capability.

4) This is a fairly grey area - there is a strong possibility that if your employer is inclined to sue, then they will whether you violate their agreement or not (Rule #1: the other guy always *can* sue). Having a lawyer behind you before you proceed can save you a LOT of stress should this happen.

5)  See a lawyer.

Best of luck,
Philo

Philo
Thursday, September 11, 2003

"You're not just a kid earning pocket money by cutting grass in the summer vacation."


Grass cutting gets more than $6/hr.....

apw
Thursday, September 11, 2003

Anon has a good question.  A current or former employer might want to prevent you from saying ANYTHING about the projects you worked on.  Obviously this isn't correct or no one could put C++ or SQL or whatever on their resume.  On the other hand, it's just as obvious that handing a potential employer a full free copy of the software wouldn't be legit. 

So where's the middle ground?  Are you allowed to show screenshots?  How in-depth can you discuss functionality or implementation?  If the software is commercial, would it be illegal or unethical for you to demonstrate the software (with a laptop or a trial version) to a potential employer?

SomeBody
Thursday, September 11, 2003

If you are only being paid $6 per hour, who cares? Show the other employer. It is disingenious to recommend that he visits a lawyer, as he makes in one week what many lawyers make in one hour. 

rz
Thursday, September 11, 2003

IANAL and as I mentioned above: GET A LAWYER.  However, you may be able to save yourself a few dollars if you wish to give up now.  ;)

Interesting article on this is at lawnotes: http://www.lawnotes.com/cpyright/copr_faq.html#Ownership

Let me take a small section, utilizing my "fair use" option...

Can Just Running a Computer Program Be a Copyright Infringement?
A: Yes, at least under present law.

Anyone who runs a program on a computer necessarily makes a copy of the program (perhaps in pieces) in the random-access memory (RAM) of the computer. Several courts have held that if the person running the program does not have authorization to make such a copy, the result is an infringement of the copyright in the program.


Also look at the other FAQs, in the sidebar, as they may also apply.   

--- "If it weren't for lawyers what would lawyers do all day?"

MSHack
Thursday, September 11, 2003

> If you are only being paid $6 per hour, who
> cares? Show the other employer.

So what's the breaking point here?  At what point is he paid enough that he shouldn't violate the agreement? 

I still fail to see how the price per hour for the work in question is an issue at all.  He signed an agreement, he should show some character and abide by the terms.  If the contract says that what he developed is confidential and not to be shown, so be it.  If the contract doesn't say anything about that, go for it.  Advising somebody to break an agreement because in hindsight they signed a bad deal, is just wrong.

Joe Blandy
Thursday, September 11, 2003

If he's making $6/hr, he's judgement proof.

pdq
Thursday, September 11, 2003

Just show it! Employers don't like you going to other employers anyway. And at $6 an hour I'd pay to be fired!

Stephen Jones
Thursday, September 11, 2003

Note, that you may effectively terminate your other interview by saying "This is my current work I want to show you".
Your interviewer may immediately turn you away at this point because he could see something that he should not see and your current company will get chance to sue his company for stealing information.

WildTiger
Thursday, September 11, 2003

In addition to what WildTiger had to say, how will it reflect on you if you're showing current, proprietary work?  Your prospective employer might assume you're a loose cannon who doesn't care much about protecting an employer's confidences.  (Regardless of whether it's technically allowed under your IP agreement.)

Robert Jacobson
Thursday, September 11, 2003

how 'soon' is 'soon'?  If it's going to be on the web to use w/o a license, I'd say go for it.

explain to the interviewer that it was supposed to be on the web already, but lake of planning on network's part has delayed it a few days.

risk taker
Thursday, September 11, 2003

any cheap bastard paying developers $6/hour in the US deserves every piece of trouble they get.

Remember to steal the computer from your office when you leave...

FullNameRequired
Thursday, September 11, 2003

Here's the answer I'd give to an employer that asks to see code from my last paying gig:

"I'm sorry, but I don't own the intellectual property rights to that code. I don't think it's a good idea, legally or morally, to show it to you without their written permission. If you'd like, I could bring in some code from current/recent personal projects and show that to you instead. I can also discuss what my current work project is without showing you the code."

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Thursday, September 11, 2003

"I can also discuss what my current work project is "

You'd better not go into details!

 
Thursday, September 11, 2003

Of course, I wouldn't divulge any secret details. That goes without saying. My experience is that most interviewers are curious at best about exact technical details of a previous project (and usually only because it jives with their needs). Usually, they're more interested in asking vague questions like "tell me about a significant problem you had working on your project, and how you overcame it."

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Thursday, September 11, 2003

anon, just do it. If you're getting $6 an hour, you must be young or poor or both and I'm sure your employer knows this. In other words, you are not worth sueing.

Apart from that, employees have a legal right to discuss their work accomplishments as part of looking for new work. Demo'ing an app is close enough to this that I wouldn't worry. If you're worried, just use screenshots or drawings.

tree
Thursday, September 11, 2003

IP is difficult.

In an interview I was told of the solution to a question set by the interviewer.

Now If I used that answer in a future application for a company, who is breaking IP?

Me for having the audacity to remember the code in the first place (it was a really tight, cool solution), or my company for not insisting that all my code added to the project was truly 'original thought'?

Just wondering...

Raddy Echt
Friday, September 12, 2003

It's a small world.

If you're working for $6/hr, you're probably  early in your career (I hope).

It's a little too early for you to start burning bridges.

If this is going to piss off your former employer, DON'T DO IT.  They're assholes, they pay you shit, whatever.  Take the high road.  Pull an all-nighter and whip up a custom demo on your own time and show that.

Richard Ponton
Friday, September 12, 2003

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home