The standard employment contracts of many large companies state that any intellectual property (IP) developed by an employee while in employment - even outside of working hours - belongs to the company.
This is fine if said employee has limited experience or hobbies/interests that are entirely divorced from their job. A problem arises with more experienced hires who may have developed IP in their personal capacity and intend to use that IP in the fulfillment of their employment duties.
How should the IP agreement be structured so that:
- the employer gets to keep unique IP developed by their employees in the course of their work;
- employees get to maintain their ownership of IP developed prior to starting work but which may continue being developed while employed, and which may be used to support their job?
Adding to the mix is that the employee may be relying on passive income from this IP to supplement their income. There is no conflict of interest between licensees of the IP and the employer. Lastly, no patents cover the IP, they're simply "trade secrets" and software.
Anyone have any experience of this? I imagine it's happening more often as people shift backwards and forwards between employment and self-employment.