Re: Call for lawyers: GPL Intelectual property protection
> Ben Pfaff writes:
> > Why is everyone ignoring the `or (b) which does not result from any
> > performed for the Company or Client.' part?
> Parse the double negatives carefully. That sentence says that if his work
> results from any work performed for the Company or Client they own it even
> if it wasn't done on their machines or time and doesn't relate to the
> business of the Company.
Ok - now I'm confused - I though this was what Ben Pfaff was saying.
That is, there seem to be two interpretations here:
1) Any idea relating to anything Microsoft has its fingers in is
unusable in free software without Microsoft's consent
2) There's an out if one is careful about how said idea was developed,
and if said idea does not result from work done at the Company.
The paragraph in contention is:
The previous paragraph of this Agreement does not apply to any invention for
which no equipment, supplies, facility, or trade secret information of the
Company or Client was used and which was developed entirely on Employee's own
time, and (a) which does not relate to the business of the Company or Client
or to the Company's or Client's actual or demonstrably anticipated research or
development, or (b) which does not result from any work performed for the
Company or Client.
Let's analyze this by putting it in the language of first-order
logic. Lowercase letters mean statements, (a A b) stands for the
statement "a and b", (a V b) stands for "a or b". (~a) will stand for
the negation of a, often pronounced "not a", and (a => b) will stand
for "a implies b" or "b if a".
Let "i" be an invention:
m = "The previous paragraph applies to i" (i.e. MSFT owns i)
n = "equipment, supplies, facility, or trade secret information of
the Company or Client was used to develop i"
p = "i was developed entirely on the Employee's own time"
q = "i relates to the business of the Company or Client or to the
Company's or Client's actual or demonstrably anticipated
research or development"
r = "i results from some work performed for the Company or Client"
The paragraph in contention seems to say:
(~n) A p A ((~q) V (~r)) => ~m
So, it would seem that "q" can be true (that is, an invention can be
related to software) and yet we can still have ~m (that is, said
invention is not owned by microsoft). All that needs to happen is ~r
(that is, the invention "i" must not result from work performed for
However, that aside, I'm a bit worried about the next paragraph:
Employee further agrees that while employed by the Company, all Ideas being
developed by Employee shall be identified to the Company promptly upon
conceiving such Ideas. Upon request by the Company, Employee will disclose
any such Idea to the Company (by a full and clear description) for the purpose
of determining the Company's and/or Client's rights therein.
The implication is that even if an idea wouldn't be owned by MSFT,
they still must be told about it.
Reviewing this contract segment causes a certain German folksong to
run through my head...