This week I officially got a raise for the first time in my corporate life. Yey!
With it came a few papers to sign and one of them was a patents and intellectual property agreement. I understand that companies need to protect their assets (I signed the standard NDA a few months back) but 2 particular clauses caught me uneasy.
3. The Employee shall promptly furnish the Company a complete record of any and all inventions, patents and improvements, whether patentable or not, which he solely or jointly may conceive, make, or first disclose during the period of his/her employment by the Company.
Does this mean I can’t just make other games and release it? Do I have to tell the Company every single time? Wait, it has to be conceived or made or first disclosed during the period of my employment. But what exactly is a “period of employment”. I asked the Admin about this and they defined “period of employment” = paid work hours. Fair enough, other companies like to define it as the day you got hired to the day they fired you.
4. The Employee agrees to and hereby grants and assign to the Company or its nominee the Employee’s entire right, title, and interest in and to inventions, patents and improvements that relate in any way to the actual or anticipated business or activities of the Company or its Affiliates, or that are anticipated by or result from any task or work for or on behalf of the Company together with any and all domestic and foreign patent rights in such inventions and improvements. To aid the Company or its nominee in securing full benefit and protection thereof, the Employees agrees promptly to do all lawful acts reasonably requested, at any time during and after the employment by the Company, without the additional compensation but at the Company’s expense.
I work for a social (read: Facebook) gaming company. Does this mean the Company owns my Facebook game(s)? Does this cover all online/web based games? The scope of this clause is too big to be unambiguous so, again, I asked for clarification. This time they told me to STFU.
No, not really.
Actually, they told me that it’s specific to the games we are making. So if the Company is making a game about Cows and Aliens don’t make a Carabaos and Zombies rip off. If they can recognize their game in mine it’s officially theirs. Fair enough.
I signed the damn agreement already. Admin didn’t offer a rewording of the contract to reflect the clearer definitions. That’s ok. From the discussion, I understood that they are merely trying to protect the company’s assets and aren’t after my badly coded, unfinished crap. Besides, I’m not really litigious.
While we were discussing this, our HR girl asked me why I’m being too thorough on this.
“Do you have projects on the side?”
“Yes, I have plenty.”
“Oh. Then you must be earning a lot from these projects”
“Nope. Not a single centavo.”
“What? Why do it then?”
“Umm.. because I want to?”