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Thread: Who owns the drawings?
10-27-2013, 04:24 PM #21
Sounds to me as you are trying like hell to justify YOUR OWNERSHIP... and payment for computer work ...
Aint gona happen unless THAT and THOSE DUTIES are PART of YOUR JOB DESCRIPTION...
From your words here... they're not...
Better stop doing what your doing and damn well better not give anything away to ANYBODY...
10-27-2013, 05:39 PM #22
My job description is "machinist". They own and control me when I am on the clock and getting paid. When I clock out I own me. If I do something on my own time that benefits me because it makes my time under their control easier and faster that is also to their benefit. I have no contract stating otherwise. I could have and probably should have sit down with a calculator and solved a lot of trig problems and come up with the same result but that would have taken a lot of time. I tend to prefer making chips instead of sitting on my duff. As I have stated: I designed the job on my time, I drew the plans on my time on my computer using my program, and I printed the drawings on my paper using my ink. I have not been compensated for any of these actions. Therefore it seems reasonable to me to consider the drawings as mine. If they want to pay me for my effort that's a different story.
10-27-2013, 06:27 PM #23
The law is not about what we personally feel is right and wrong, but rather what is written in that law.
I am almost positive that the company owns the drawings that you created. Again, it does not matter what you think, or that you paid for the CAD program, or that you did it at home. All that matters is what the law says. And if the company owns those drawings, and you sell them to a competitor, you could wind up in a lot of trouble - and "I strongly feel I own those things because I made them on my own time" is going to count for about as much as some poor SOB saying "but my accountant never told me!" while he sits in tax court owing a huge amount.
I would strongly suggest you read through this:
Economic Espionage Act of 1996 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
It is a federal crime that real people go to federal prison for when they take trade secrets and company data and sell them to other companies.
It would be foolish to base your actions on what you believe is right and wrong - instead, you should talk to a lawyer, or at the very least, if you feel you are not doing anything wrong, it should be a no-brainer to talk to your existing employer and let them know your plan. If you have nothing to hide, then why not just be up-front with them? At the very least, you will either get the A-OK from them (in writing), or you open the door for a conversation on unpaid work you are doing.
But consider this... it would be absolutely insane if an employee, who was not asked to do the work, took it upon himself to create some sort of derivative work or solve a problem that came about through his employment, then retained ownership of that work and was free to sell it to a competitor. It just does not pass the smell test that it could work that way. If it did, I could use my knowledge of working at Sam Adams to create a much more efficient brewing process that I based on Sam Adams internal process, then sell it to the Carslberg Group and claim Sam Adams has no recourse because I did it on my own time.
It just doesn't work like that.
10-27-2013, 06:53 PM #24
10-27-2013, 06:56 PM #25
You basically have 2 choices that won't have any possible repercussions. Either talk to your management and get paid or a release to do what you want to do, or stop doing work based on stuff you learnt from your current employer with the idea of giving or selling it to a 3rd party.
3rd option is to quit and - provided you're not violating trade secrets etc - do as you please.
I understand that this is not what you want to hear, but it is what you need to hear. Situations like this are precisely why I added a clause excluding enhancements and new developments to some of my personal IP from incidental capture by an employer. It was never an issue because my stuff was outside any other employer's core business and it was a pretty long bow to try claiming ownership of something simply because it was written in the same computer language as I used in my day job.
10-27-2013, 07:20 PM #26
I am 100% on board that the company has full rights to anything you design that relates to your duties as an employee.
The only sticky point is that it was done off the clock by an hourly employee, on equipment the company did not provide.
If they claim a right to it because it was part of your employment, then they acknowledge you did the work for them.
As an hourly employee, I think you have a right to compensated for the all the hours you worked for the company, approved or otherwise.
So going after you for an intellectual property violation could be costly for them.
Making the first move and pushing for compensation could be a career limiting move.
In general managers like to sweep this kind of thing under the rug and avoid any conflict.
Your safe play is to get some kind of agreement for future compensation, and don't hold out hope for any direct compensation for previous work.
By all means don't pass along intellectual property to a third party without written approval.
The risk outweighs the reward.
Hourly employees doing company work off the clock is not cool for an employer.
If they are aware of it and allow or request it, it's a big problem for them.
There are attorneys lined up that love this stuff and every decent HR department knows it.
Documentation of what you did, how much time was spent doing it and who knew you were doing it will be useful should you ever need one.
10-27-2013, 08:14 PM #27
Theirs nothing sticky about it... You donated your time to make your life at work a bit easier. Good on you and if the place is worth a hoot they should notice. Might get a position change, might get a raise and you might just get a thank you...
Appreciated by your boss or not, if its even close to the field your "employed" in and in this case a reverse engineered part from the company your employed in? The simple fact that you had to ask tells me its close enough to what you do. Competing with your employer is what it is and its definitely a conflict of interest. Its never a good idea.
10-27-2013, 08:26 PM #28
The way I heard it, early on,...
"The work you do on Company time earns you a pay check.
The work you do in your time earns you a promotion."
IF I got $.50 an hour for all the studying. readng and knowledge enhancement (including CAD work!) I've done to enhance my ability to respond to situations at "work", I would have received a hefty sum.
10-27-2013, 09:38 PM #29
If I am not missing something, you took the measurements at work, and ran the part on work's machines to prove them out. You donated the programming time and made drawings. If you do anything with those drawings outside of work I am pretty sure your employer would have legal recourse. The drawings are not yours I think that is pretty cut and dried.
10-27-2013, 09:46 PM #30
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10-27-2013, 09:57 PM #31
This whole thing has trouble written all over it.
You doing 100 hours of programming on your own time, for a machinist position, is just crazy, would be different if you were salaried(still too much donated time anyway), then your doing it on your own computer. Even though you did the stuff at home on your own time to maybe make your life easier, the company still owns them. When you make a jig to make machining something easier you don't own it, so why would you own these drawings.
There is no way I would release any documents to a company besides your own without going through your company because they have item dimensions and property from your company on them. That could land you in a really hot seat faster than you can think.
10-27-2013, 11:29 PM #32
STOP WORKING FOR FREE! Don't do it again except at his request, on the clock, on his premises, with overtime. Maybe you think he treated you like his bow-wow, but maybe your effort didn't save him enough to cover your time. How did he treat your request? If he acted like he slam-dunked in your face,
let the job search begin. You quit as soon as you find a better job. Stay professional. No smart ass remarks.
I don't know how labor law works in this situation. The boss might be off the hook if you can't prove he asked you to work on it. If the State Labor Dept. gets involved, even if the company doesn't have to pay you for the extra hours, I believe your days there would be numbered. Your call.
The drawings belong to your boss. You took dimensions off his stuff, and proved the changes on his time and machines. Even if you were right(you're not), you will lose in court if you give it to a third party.
10-27-2013, 11:38 PM #33
10-28-2013, 07:39 AM #34
Not a lawyer here so the legal advise is worth nothing. To me the DRAWINGS belong to the OP and he has some ownership of them due to the fact he is an hourly employee and they were done on his time. HOWEVER the information on the drawing is proprietary to his employer and he could be in big trouble for sharing as others have said.
10-28-2013, 07:56 AM #35
Lots of assumptions here claiming employment law regarding intellectual property applies equally to everyone within a company when that's not the case by any means.
The OP's job is "machinist". No part of that job compels him to share ideas, improve work methods, save the company time or money, or engage in any activity other than making parts.
He spent his own time, on his own equipment, to design a tool to measure/set gear backlash.
Setting and measuring gear backlash is a generic operation so the employer cannot claim that he used some proprietary knowledge gained via his employment with them to know that such a device might be desirable in industry.
As a machinist, design work is outside the scope of his employment and his employer has confirmed this via their refusal to provide him with design equipment as a part of his toolset at work.
Per the original post, the OP was asked by the employer to design this tool outside of normal work hours. That he made the parts on the clock is immaterial to the ownership of the design work. That he made the employer aware of the time he spent on the design work, and the fact that they chose not to compensate him for this time is evidence that the company considers the design to have no monetary value.
Assuming there is some boilerplate text within the company's conditions of employment claiming ownership of any ideas or inventions, the company invalidated those conditions as they relate to this employee when they didn't pay him for his work. Its a basic legal principle within the US system that one-sided contracts are unenforceable. IOW, in this case, the employer can't claim ownership of work outside the scope of the employee's duties unless they're willing to pay for the work.
That the employee did not press the issue of payment, and therefore donated the design to the company is an argument without merit. As an employee, he is in a negotiating position inferior to the position of management. IOW, although he knew he had a legal right to payment for the work, the prospect of losing his job if he pressed the issue would have a chilling effect on him exercising his right to payment.
The parts made on company time belong to the company just the same as a Crescent wrench they bought belongs to them. But the design of the parts belongs to the OP just the same as the design of the wrench belongs to Crescent Tool because the company in both cases bought a product but not the design of the product.
All the above is the reason many large employers pay handsomely for cost saving ideas submitted by tradespeople in their employ. Yes, they want to encourage the input, but that could be encouraged via some token payment. Rather than token payments, the payment is typically related to the projected cost savings related to the idea because the company has an interest in acquiring the legal right to use the idea as well as a legal right to the savings generated by the idea over the long term.
Virtually all the responses to the OP's question seem to come from the perspective of people who are either in some design function like an engineer or machine designer, or in some level of supervision or management. From those perspectives, the responses would be correct since people in those positions are hired to do design work and/or to enhance the company's efficiency and productivity. There's a valid reason why such people can't claim ownership to work related ideas spawned "off the clock", in that the ability to make such claims would bring on endless conflicts where any idea having a high potential value would be claimed by some types of people as having been born during non-work hours. That these classes of employees are paid for their ideas as well as their physical work is a legitimate and widely accepted premise within employment law. The same does not apply to tradespeople because they're paid strictly for their physical work.
Years ago I had a situation where an employee I supervised could potentially get a large sum of money(~$5000) from the company's suggestion program. He'd come up with an idea that would save a lot of time and effort in a different department within the company. He mentioned the idea, which was simple beyond belief as compared to the way the job was being done, and I told him to make the necessary pieces to give it a try. No design work necessary, and he had a prototype ready to go in half a day. The other dept tried it out and found it worked better than their existing cutters and stayed sharp roughly 3X as long.
The primary advantages were that the new cutter was a 15 minute modification of an off the shelf $10 hardware store item where the existing cutters were custom made from tool steel at a cost of several hundred bucks apiece. The new cutter could be resharpened by a monkey in 5 minutes while the existing ones had to be sent out to a tool and cutter grinding shop for resharpening at close to $100 a pop.
The employee hadn't mentioned anything about this idea being a part of the company suggestion program as it was something that just popped into his head one day and we pursued it. I wondered myself if it might qualify, but wasn't sure and didn't want to get his hopes up in case my suspicion that it would qualify might be wrong.
I had a friend outside work who was a partner in the labor and employment law firm that represented the company. The company wasn't one of his own clients, but as a partner, the interests of all their clients was his interest as well. Knowing I could get the straight scoop from him, I decided to call him for some free advice before talking to anyone in the company about the situation. After I'd given him some background, he explained the legalities in about as simple terms as possible.
You're the executive chef at a restaurant whose food is generally good, but the mashed potatoes are bland and tasteless.
You come up with a new recipe for great mashed potatoes.
The recipe belongs to the company because improving food quality is part of what you're paid to do.
OTOH, one of your cooks comes up with the great mashed potato recipe, and makes a batch at work for everyone to try.
In this case, the recipe belongs to the cook and not to the company since the cook is paid to cook and not paid to develop new recipes.
Your shop man is paid for the physical work he performs, just the same as the cook.
The idea for the new cutter is the equivalent of the cook's new recipe, and remains his property even though the test pieces were made at work.
The idea becomes the property of the company when the company pays him under the terms of the suggestion program.
At that point, I told the employee to fill out the paperwork to submit the idea as an official suggestion, and he was paid as prescribed in the program.
Unless major changes have taken place within employment law in the 30 years since the above, the OP retains ownership of his mashed potato recipe and is free to do with it as he wishes.
10-28-2013, 08:32 AM #36
Buddy of mine worked for a big name pharmaceutical company as a Chemist. Had patent after patent for new drugs, formulas whatever. As he said to me whether he was in his lab, sitting on the deck of his boat in the middle of the ocean sipping a cold one or woke up from a sound sleep...whatever thought or process he came up with or discovered was the property of his employer. He was compensated very well...but he made the company ridiculous amounts of money with his work.
Point being...your idea came from work. You decided to take it further and work from home...thats on you for giving away your talent. But its the companies property.
Your computer, your ink, your paper, your time...it's theirs.
Imagine if every R&D person working for a company found something Big, then left to bring that idea to market on their own...who would hire a developer.
If you wish to expand your position...make sure you are compensated for it.
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10-28-2013, 09:00 AM #37
i would tell them: "my hard drive crashed and I had to reformat my computer... sorry"
10-28-2013, 09:05 AM #38
My only thought on the subject is that you either need to be paid for what you do......or find a new hobby.
10-28-2013, 09:13 AM #39
Confusing. Wouldn't the issue be solved by asking his employer how they feel about it? If he challenges their decision he might jeopardize his job.
Years ago when I had a real job, salaried, my boss told me if I wanted to move ahead in my career I should be there on weekends so management could see my dedication. On the other hand the hourlies who punched the clock were subject to discipline if they punched in early or punched out some amount of minutes later than the prescribed working hours. In other words, salaried were expected to work beyond forty hours without compensation, hourlies were not allowed to.
10-28-2013, 09:26 AM #40
First, one should always have a contingency plan. And an idea of feasibility. So you should figure out if there are other employers in your area where you could get employment if the balloon goes up at your current employer. Because people freak out and do stupid stuff.
I think that there's some ambiguity here. Enough to exploit to get a better arrangement set up at least, if you choose to push it.
I'd remind your boss that about your work. "You know, boss, the improvements I made in the backlash gearing? The ones I developed independently on my own time?".
Then let him know you plan to share it. "I figure that I'd share it with company B, to help them".
If he squawks, tell him "Look, no doubt you own what I produce when you're paying me. But, I'm hourly. So if you guys choose not to pay me for stuff I develop off-hours, I have to figure you have no value for it. That's ok, but it's not a work product then."
See what he says. If he's squawking, ask him "Look, if the company doesn't value this enough to pay me for developing it, what's the problem with sharing it? And if the company feels this is so valuable they don't want it to be shared, what's the problem with paying me for the work? And compensating me for the cost of my software and computer?"
You may get shut down and it may blow up, so have the contingency plan (like a job offer) ready. But if you are polite, respectful, and use logic and a positive attitude, you may get a contract that says that the company will compensate you for your use of your computer and software ($X per year) and will also compensate you for pre-approved projects you do. They'd own the results, you'd get paid for interesting work you enjoy. Win win.
But again, people do stupid stuff, so be prepared. Also, I'd avoid sharing the drawing files with the company. And I'd have a physical disk image backup offsite (at, say, your brother's house in Nome, Alaska or someplace) with ongoing cloud backup. If I was really paranoid I'd use a disk encryption methodology so that even if your computer were appropriated, the files would be inaccessible.