As I was being hired today, I was asked to sign a "Confidentiality and Inventions Assignment Agreement" which partly reads:

"I agree that all right (...) to any copyrightable material (...) conceived by me (...) solely or in collaboration with others (...) during the period of time that I am in the employ of [company name] (including during my off-duty hours) or with the use of [company]'s equipment (...) are the sole propriety of [company]."

However after a quick search online I have found from the respected Nolo website that:

"In California, for example, an invention assignment agreement is not valid as to inventions created entirely on the employee’s own time, without using any of the employer’s resources or property (including intellectual property)."

As a Designer, I fall in the category described on the page in the bullet list near the end:

Are you likely to invent during your employment? If you are a creative tinkerer, always coming up with ideas and improvements, you might not want to sign away your rights to earn some money off whatever you invent.

The document also has a blank page at the end where I am invited to add "List of prior inventions and original works of authorship", which would require a lot of time for me and also implies not only disclosing past and current projects, which might be extensive work and/or confidential, but also implies stopping work on them?

Is this agreement common practice, and what is a simple and quick way to make sure my ownership of my works outside of work is preserved?

  • Your works would have to be in a field entirely different than what your employer operates in, and not using any equipment (including laptop, printer, or even paid-for services like cell phone or data plans). If you can prove that, it would be difficult for the employer to make claim to what you have created. You may ask for the assignment to be narrowed to inventions in the field of x, y, or z. – Ron Beyer Jul 2 '18 at 22:15
  • But my private works and my new job are in the same field. I'm not sure if they can claim current, past or side projects not done on company premises/equipment. – MicroMachine Jul 2 '18 at 22:39
  • You should declare current, past, or side projects on a separate piece of paper you attach to the contract. – Ron Beyer Jul 3 '18 at 0:57

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