Last weekend I started to put together a visual guide about a software development process.

It's something I have developed over 10 years based on my experience, and I believe it would do very well if published into a book. Something I have always wanted to do.

I have created it in my own time, and my current employer would benefit hugely from this guide, even though it's still a basic draft.

If I share it with my employer I am concerned they will wrongly assume they own it and present it as their own. If I then publish into a book they might think they can sue me, and I would have nothing to prove the work belongs to myself.

Is there a way to share this with my employer, and still be able to publish it myself without issues?

(In the UK)

  • 1
    What does your employment contract say about IP ownership and work done by employees on their own time while employed by the company? Commented Apr 10, 2020 at 18:36
  • It just has a general statement that says any work done belongs to the company. I assume legally that only applies to working hours. Nothing about "own time".
    – flexi
    Commented Apr 10, 2020 at 18:44

2 Answers 2


Is there a way to share this with my employer, and still be able to publish it myself without issues?

Publish it on your website/blog first. Then give your employer the link.

If your employment responsibilities do not include creating stuff like that, or it was (substantially) created before your employment started, it is yours.

  • If they did it on their own time, or without using their employer's resources, or for something that is not explicitly part of their employment contract, it's likely to be the OP's property as well anyway.
    – user4657
    Commented Apr 11, 2020 at 3:36
  • @Nij Yeah likely, but that would be a grey area fuzzed in the fine print and applicable employment law. It is not uncommon for employers to ask employees to work outside of their normal hours, in which case, if the OP's guide falls under what he would normally do for the employer the answer is not quite straight.
    – Greendrake
    Commented Apr 11, 2020 at 4:22
  • Will vary by state. Commented Apr 11, 2020 at 18:12

it’s arguable that your employer already owns it - even if they never know about it

General IP clauses in employment contracts are interpreted to capture IP created “in the course of employment”. There is no concept of working time or non-working time. If you are employed as a software developer then a guide about software development is arguably in the course of your employment.

If you really want to do this then either negotiate an contract with your employer about it or resign and write it then.

  • 2
    And what makes you think that OP's visual guide was created "in the course of employment"? Also, the concept of working time in employment contracts is pretty common. Not every employee is a slave.
    – Greendrake
    Commented Apr 10, 2020 at 22:57
  • @Greendrake I said it was arguable - a software engineer writing a software engineering manual is acting in accordance with what software engineers do for a job. If he were writing a cookbook ...
    – Dale M
    Commented Apr 11, 2020 at 0:08
  • 3
    "Arguable" does not quite mean "employer already owns it", does it? At the end of the day, software engineers could have more than one employer at the same time, or also be self-employed.
    – Greendrake
    Commented Apr 11, 2020 at 0:46
  • 2
    This is nonsense in at least two jurisdictions. Without explicit inclusion of claiming specific work, the idea of "in the course of employment" is very limited - only what comes from on-the-clock working time, using work resources, for a work reason.
    – user4657
    Commented Apr 11, 2020 at 1:46

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