Legal Question in Intellectual Property in Virginia

Are my ideas my employers?

My employer required me to sign an agreement

that anything I invent is the company's property.

I enjoy 3d animation as a hobby and my job

doesn't involve 3d at all. My supervisor overheard

me discussing my hobby with another employee

and stated that any artwork or animations I create

are the company's property. I asked him to show

me the aggreement stating that and he

threatened to terminate me for questioning him.

He is now asking that bring all my property to work

so it can be examined.

Ummm. Do I need an attorney? The company I

work for is an internet service provider that has

nothing to do with 3D or graphic design.

Asked on 11/28/01, 7:06 pm

3 Answers from Attorneys

Daniel Press Chung & Press, P.C.

Re: Are my ideas my employers?

The agreement may actually cover this. You need to see a lawyer ASAP.

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Answered on 11/28/01, 9:24 pm
Lawrence Graves Coolidge & Graves PLLC

Re: Are my ideas my employers?

Some employment agreements contain over-broad assignments like this. You definitely need to have this looked at by an attorney.

On a practical level, you also need to assess the various possible outcomes (e.g., even if you are completely right about not having assigned your rights, are you going to alienate your boss/company? if your ideas are unrelated to the company's business, is it really likely that the company will exercise its rights to take your ideas?).

Anyway, let me know if you need help. Best wishes,


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Answered on 11/29/01, 8:37 am
Brad Goldizen Goldizen & Associates

Re: Are my ideas my employers?

You should seek legal counsel and have the signed agreement reviewed. Your legal rights can be contracted away. By this I mean that ordinarily you probably would have rights to the animation; however, by agreeing to the terms of the agreement you may have contracted to give up ownership rights to the invention.

Another point to consider is that Virginia is an "at will" employment state. This means you may be terminated for a broad range of reasons.

If you are located in the Hampton Roads area and would like to discuss this matter further, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Brad Goldizen, Esq.

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Answered on 11/29/01, 9:27 am

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