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Your IP clause probably sucks

Steve Gilles
Mar 2
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If you only have time to clean up one part of your employment contract, focus on the IP clause.

Having handed out my fair share of employment contracts I found that almost all of the push back from potential employees relates to Intellectual Property. It’s worth noting that I’m not a lawyer, this is coming from a technical recruiter’s perspective.

Here’s the thing:

  • Many great software developers have a side project, whether that be open or closed source.
  • Lawyers are paid to make sure you’re covered in most likely scenarios. They’re naturally going to err on the side of caution when writing contracts.
  • Hiring managers don’t always have the time or expertise to question what their lawyer puts in their employment contract.

This creates a situation where IP clauses are often overly aggressive, even when employers don’t actually intend to claim IP rights for unrelated side projects.

An employment contract written in plain English is almost unheard of. If you can create one with the help of your lawyer, you’re showing new hires they’re about to work with a company who gets them.

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