Owning the Work Product
of Your Employees and
Some of a company's most valuable assets are highly mobile: employees. Companies need to ensure that any work created by employees and independent contractors on the job is owned by the company and can be exploited to its greatest extent. Similarly, companies need to ensure that former employees do not solicit the company's employees to leave the company, that they protect the company's trade secrets, and that they do not compete against the company after leaving. Prohibitions against competition are strictly scrutinized by courts; however, if they are reasonable in scope and duration, they are generally permissible. Finally, companies must protect themselves against unwanted and unsolicited information submitted to the company. Many companies adopt formal policies prohibiting parties from submitting ideas or information unless the information is specifically requested by the company.
The general rule is that employers own the work of their employees created while on the job. In fact, as discussed in Chapter 10, under copyright