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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
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    Cascadia
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    29

    Default Starting a Personal Side Business While Employed

    My question involves business law in the state of: Washington

    Hi,

    We live in the state of Washington, in the Seattle area. I am employed with a large tech company in the area -- let's say it's one of Microsoft, Amazon, or Google. My employer has their fingers in lots of pies, and lots of highly paid corporate lawyers. My wife has some ideas about starting her own business which would be based on the web, having to do with travel and activities. She has asked me to help design and implement the website and backend systems for the business. I worry about my employer claiming rights over anything I come up with in my free time at home, since there was an invention assignment agreement I signed when I joined. My question is, how enforceable is that sort of agreement in the state of Washington, for IP invented in your own personal time outside of work, without using any corporate materials? Should I contact the corporate lawyers and try to get some sort of clarified agreement set up before we start creating anything to protect ourselves?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Behind a Desk
    Posts
    98,846

    Default Re: Starting a Personal Side Business While Employed

    You will need to have a lawyer review your contract and business plan. Your question can't be answered in the abstract.

    (It's a bit like my asking you, "My program, which I won't identify, runs on OS X, Windows or Linux, and it just crashed. How do I fix it?" Except there the generic answer sometimes works. )

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    18,340

    Default Re: Starting a Personal Side Business While Employed

    Quote Quoting Cascadian
    View Post
    My question is, how enforceable is that sort of agreement in the state of Washington, for IP invented in your own personal time outside of work, without using any corporate materials?
    You're asking the wrong question.

    Doesn't matter how "enforceable" the agreement is.

    The right question is how much money do you have in the bank that you can spend defending a lawsuit while you are looking for another job after you get fired and sued when your employer thinks you crossed the line?

    Quote Quoting Cascadian
    View Post
    Should I contact the corporate lawyers and try to get some sort of clarified agreement set up before we start creating anything to protect ourselves?
    That's entirely up to you.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Cascadia
    Posts
    29

    Default Re: Starting a Personal Side Business While Employed

    Thank for the feedback. My wife seemed to think it was no big deal, and didn't believe me when I told her it could cause some serious problems.

    Cascadian

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    18,340

    Default Re: Starting a Personal Side Business While Employed

    What your wife has to understand is that employers are very narrow minded about this sort of stuff and they don't make you sign those agreements without the will and ability to litigate when they are breached.

    Now, if you make a small salary and are a small fish in a big pond and are sure you can find another job very quickly, then you might take your chances.

    But if you are making big bucks and are a big fish where replacement jobs are scarce then you might not take any chances.

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