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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Posts
    2

    Default Seminar Content Rights After Employment

    While working for my present employer, I developed seminar content of which the only physical manifestation are some Powerpoint slides. The vast majority of the value of this seminar is in the manner of presentation and the overall agenda of the material which is not propriety in any way - meaning it doesn't represent any data that isn't available to the general public.

    The material was never presented for renumeration, it was solely for firm name recognition. Based on some research, I believe this seminar has a market and I am leaving my firm to pursue this as a business. I do have a clause in my employment agreement that states any work that I develop under their employ is property of the firm.

    I will attempt to get written waiver of some sort before departing - which IS possible as I don't believe the firm would pursue this without me. But in the event that I can't get a waiver, my question is:

    How much would I have to alter this material in order for it to be no longer the firm's? Again, it is not proprietary material.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    758

    Default Ownership of Ideas

    Apparently, you compiled a great deal of non-proprietary information, available from public sources, and made a presentation for your firm. Your contract with your firm seemingly leaves them in ownership of the material you prepared for them. However, that doesn't give them ownership of the ideas you put together, and absent some form of non-compete clause shouldn't in any way prevent your putting together an alternative presentation based on the same ideas.

    Go to a book store, and look for biographies of Abraham Lincoln. Assuming you go to a decent bookstore, there will probably be five or six on the shelf, of varying lengths by various authors. The core of each biography will be very similar. Some may even cite the others as sources. All are original work, and thus all can be sold by their authors.

    You made the functional equivalent of one "Lincoln biography" for your employer. You now wish to make a second for your own use - that should be perfectly feasible. If it were me, I would build the new version from the ground up, revisiting and supplementing my original sources, revising and improving my organization, and not even referencing my notes from what I did for my old employer (let alone the actual presentation I prepared). That would give me an opportunity to improve my grasp of the material, improve my presentation, and present a good defense (including my new research notes) in the event my old employer were to cry foul.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Posts
    2

    Default

    Thanks Aaron,

    That is an excellent analogy - exactly how I would view it. You also make a great point about rewriting it for quality purposes. My plan has been to beef it up anyways, might as well mitigate the issue and rewrite the whole enchilada.

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