I spoke with a friend of mine recently who is doing some part-time programming work for his employer. My friend’s job doesn’t normally involve programming, so he and his employer never really discussed ownership, licensing, or even additional compensation for the software my friend is developing.
My friend said there was a possibility that he would market the software in the future, and didn’t think his employer would try to claim any ownership interest in the software as his employer is not in that industry and doesn’t know anything about software anyway. Most importantly, my friend explained, “my boss and I get along great.”
Although my friend may have a good relationship with the people in charge of his company right now, what happens if the company comes under new ownership or management and the boss he had an understanding with is no longer his boss? Or what if the company has financial problems and needs any assets it can claim?
Whether it’s the Trustee in Bankruptcy or a corporate hatchet man sent in to turn a company around, there are those who will claim and divide company assets with cold precision. It is much better to communicate and paper your “handshake” deal, before the owner of the hand you shook has been replaced by a stranger’s. Contact an attorney today to help you protect your work.