I developed a software system for my employer. Because this was outside my job description the owner agreed to pay me monthly to maintain the system. Because I knew the owner had a tendency not to pay I included an "expiration feature" to disable the software if I wasn't paid.

I left the company but I advised the owner that I will continue maintaining their system. However, they didn't pay me for 3 months, so the system expired.

Is an undisclosed expiration feature like that considered sabotage?

  • 2
    Was the creation of software part of your job requirements at work? How long were you paid the monthly licensing fee for your software? Was the licensing fee paid as part of your regular salary payments, or separately? I've made some edits so your question seems less rant-y. Please feel free to reintroduce information if you feel it is relevant.
    – jimsug
    Oct 14 '15 at 7:41
  • I was hired as a graphic and web. And developing there system is not part of my job. They paying the monthly fee for 4 yrs now. Fee paid seperately. Thanks for quick responsed
    – Jaiden
    Oct 14 '15 at 7:58
  • Please edit your question to address these issues. Thanks!
    – jimsug
    Oct 14 '15 at 8:00
  • 1
    @Terry Actually, it looks like he promised to continue maintaining their system, and so the precise wording will matter. And the creation of a contract places obligations on both parties.
    – jimsug
    Oct 14 '15 at 12:19
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    What is the real question? Are you asking whether the undisclosed expiration feature constitutes a crime or actionable tort?
    – feetwet
    Oct 15 '15 at 15:18

I think you're attacking the problem from the wrong angle.

The software is written in PHP? Did you really sabotaged it in such a way as to explicitly require your own intervention? E.g., did it automatically delete the source code that you own, but preserved all the stuff that they own? If it's just a few "eggs" here and there, then they can simply hire someone else to remove those eggs, and be done with it.

If you instead sabotaged their data, or encrypted it in some way, or stored it offsite, then, yes, you're in trouble. Likewise, if they're directly losing lots of money due to your software being suddenly unavailable, which you did on purpose and in bad faith (e.g., without ever informing them of any such condition), then they could likely sue you for damages.

A better approach in the situation would be the legal-offensive side. If they're using your software, without paying you the monthly fee that they've agreed to pay (and for which you have proof of many repeated prior payments, separate from your main employment with them), you should be the one to send them invoices and a cease-and-desist letter, and then if no compliance is reached, sue them, asking the court for a judgement in your favour for the monies owned, and for an injunctive court order for them to stop using your software without providing a payment in return.

  • In lieu of a track record in answering questions on Philippine law, could you provide some references that support your assertions?
    – jimsug
    Oct 26 '15 at 8:35
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    @jimsug, I am under the impression that people are free to answer questions like these without specific regard as to the exact jurisdiction; since Dale has skipped this one, I thought I'd bite. ;)
    – cnst
    Oct 26 '15 at 9:11
  • Hmm. Okay. It's just that the question specifies the Philippines and unlike Dale's common law-based answers, you don't have a track record of sound answers with regard to Philippine law. Also, you might find that Dale's answers that ignore the jurisdictions tend to be more downvoted. In any case, you don't have to do anything. References would just give me a lot more confidence that this answer is based on law and just not on what "sounds right".
    – jimsug
    Oct 26 '15 at 9:20
  • @jimsug, it would certainly be helpful to get actual law references, but it sounds like the asker is completely lost, so, i think the sounds-right approach would be helpful; also, the question was never explicitly tagged Philippines by the asker, it was you who tagged it; Dale's answers that get downvoted most explicitly state the jurisdiction that he then doesn't address.
    – cnst
    Oct 26 '15 at 9:32
  • 2
    BTW, I've reread the question, it turns out, the PHP mention was for the currency, not for the language. :-)
    – cnst
    Oct 26 '15 at 9:37

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