Are invention assignment agreements enforceable when work is done after hours and outside employers line of business? 1 Answers as of March 16, 2011

By signing the agreement, it looks like I give up ownership of all creative products I produce while employed, even if the work was done on my own time and using my own resources. I wish to develop my own personal software projects and contribute to other open source projects on my own time without fear of my employer claiming ownership at a later time. If this agreement is not enforceable when my afterhours side work is not related to the business of my employer, I might prefer just to sign the agreement without letting them know of my personal work. I would prefer that my employer not know that I am doing any side work at all; no reason to rock the boat if not necessary. If it is fully enforceable, I will need to negotiate a re-wording of the agreement something I wanted to avoid since it might give my new employer doubt about my loyalty or commitment to their business.

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DANIEL NESBITT | Hasse & Nesbitt
Written employment agreements must be addressed on a state-by-state basis. Some states permit an employer to execute employment contracts with employees that require the employee to assign any invention, even if the inventor did not use company resources or time, and the invention is unrelated to the company's business or the employee's work responsibilities. Other states would deem such arrangements unenforceable. You might consider dealing with your employer up front. If the employer insists on ownership, it should pay for all the expenses. Consult a patent attorney in your state on the best strategy under your circumstances.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 3/16/2011
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