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From: "Richard Hosking"
Subject: Re: Who owns your mind?
Date: Sat, 30 Nov 2002 09:46:28 -0800
X-Newsreader: Microsoft Outlook Express 5.00.2615.200
In the old days of the industrial revolution a company's "intellectual
property" resided in the goods that it made and the machinery used to make
them which could be locked up. Nowadays it's intellectual property resides
in the heads of it's "knowledge workers" and in practice it is difficult to
prevent this being lost if the worker is not committed to the company.
As for contracts, restriction of trade contracts are of doubtful
enforceability in Australia as I understand it. As ever the lawyers will
make their living out of arguing the case but they wont be able to tell you
for sure beforehand. (Just like the doctor who will try and get you cured
but wont guarantee it! - I am a medico by trade)
If you steal the schematics, layout and software from the company's latest
design and sell it to the opposition it is pretty clear that is not on. OTOH
is doubtful that the company owns the rights to your kitchen table design.
In between I am not sure.
Chris Carlen wrote in message
> Hi folks:
> 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
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