My employer required that I sign an agreement that included the provided statement. Does this give them exclusive access to anything I invent and thereby develop (solo or with a partner). If their industry is making compact discs, and I create a new display using OLED, do they somehow have rights to that? If their industry is developing software for games, and I develop and account software product, do they own it?
Any patent or copyright developed by an employee of [ACME] is property of the company.
Any information pertaining to such patent or copyright must remain on company premises.
An employee sharing any internal information relating to the company must have prior approval
of a company officer to do so.
If an employee attends conferences, publishes information or passes on any company-related information
to a third party which he or she attained, accumulated or learned on the job, any monetary compensation
awarded to the employee in relation to his form of information is property of [ACME].
An employee willing to use his/her own time to work on projects related to the company or the industry
the company is a part of, must have prior approval of a company officer.
Any violation of these policies can lead to the immediate termination of employment and might have legal consequences.
1 Answer from Attorneys
It depends on whether the invention is a "work made for hire" or not. The circumstances in which a work is considered a "work made for hire" is determined by the US Copyright Act as either:
(1) a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment;
or (2) a work specially ordered or commissioned for use as a contribution to a collective work, as a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, as a translation, as a supplementary work, as a compilation, as an instructional text, as a test, as answer material for a test, or as an atlas, if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire. (17 U.S.C. § 101).