I have a similar situation to this question.
My employer hired me knowing that I work on some open source projects, but for a long time, showed no interest in my open source projects. Now they want me to work on something similar to one of my projects.
Before I started working there, I planned to expand that particular project into a small side business. I might close the open source project as I turn it into a business. My employer does not know of my plans to start a small side business. My side project is not identical to what I would do at work, but it is similar.
My open source project has nothing to do with their products, so it would not compete against them. It would simply make some of their internal business and software development activities easier to do.
There are 4 tests for what is considered acceptable as a personal project.
- I don't compete against company interests.
- I don't work on it during company time, but on my own time.
- I don't work on it with company resources, but with my own computer.
- I don't reveal any company secrets.
My side project would certainly pass items 3 and 4. #2 is iffy because I can rewrite similar code at home as what I would at work. #1 is iffy because although the project is not even remotely related to the company's product, it does make the company a little more efficient.
Yet, I signed an agreement when I started saying I would turn over any intellectual property to the company that is developed during the course of my work.
Can I retain ownership of any open source code I write which is similar to what I would do at work?