From: Chris Carlen
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Subject: Who owns your mind?
Date: Wed, 27 Nov 2002 20:09:48 GMT
NNTP-Posting-Date: Wed, 27 Nov 2002 12:09:48 PST
I had a talk with the intellectual property expert at my job yesterday.
I knew that I signed an agreement when I started working that anything
I invent belongs to them. But I didn't realize that anything I invent,
at any time that I am employed by them, belongs to them.
I asked if that meant the designs for the wooden table I made for my
wife's plants, and he said yes.
Then of course we got into a long discussion of hypothetical cases, and
how to actually determine the relevance of this agreement. But for the
things that matter to me, such as the designs for projects that I create
while being a hobbyist at home, that is where things are the most unclear.
By the book, I would have to fill out a form seeking "review and
approval" to release information. Basically they would license or
release my own hobby designs to myself, after which point I could do
whatever I want with them like, god forbid I do something so
anti-capitalist as to put them on my web site for anyone to use (but of
course then no-one could patent them).
This of course is very silly in the case of most of what I do, which
qualifies as rather novice engineering, but a lot of fun for me, and
very valuable for them as I learn to work with electronics at a level
far beyond what they are used to from techs.
I am almost tempted to make their life miserable by filling out forms
for everything that I create, including workbenches for my porch,
recipes, etc., and seeing how they like it if I do it by the book. I
wonder how long before they'd beg me to stop. Unfortuately, I'd
probably be the one who would suffer because I'd spend all my time
filling forms instead of doing my work. Fortunately though, the
administration at my job is actually quite liberal about letting people
take technology out of Sandia that is quite marketable (provided it is
not classified), and giving very generous contract terms about that.
Basically then in practical terms, and realting to hobbies and what we
could prbably term "small stuff", most people just ignore "doing it by
the book" except in cases where it is obvious that one has invented
something significant, or if there is some chance that one would be
involving their knowledge of classified or national security related
information (since Sandia is primarily concerned with that stuff), then
any sensible person would certainly abstain from any outside activity
that might invite leaking such information.
But then that leads to some very difficult questions, such as whether or
not one can engage in contract work for outside clients, where something
significant (as in marketable and patentable technology, not classified)
might be invented.
To me the whole subject of "intellectual property" is offensive and
disturbing. I guess that means you can count me on the left regarding
this issue. I would abandon the whole patent system, most likely. I am
fortunate in that I have practically no intention of doing anything
other than hobbyist type projects on my own, so the more thick aspects
of this subject I can likely avoid entirely. However, it is still a
weight on my mind, and may just make me somewhat discouraged or perhaps
paranoid about my own projects.
I wonder how other folks deal with this sort of thing?
Thanks for comments.
Christopher R. Carlen
Suse 8.1 Linux 2.4.19