I've always liked the idea of owning a start-up company, during my employment history I've encountered problems and developed solutions I think could be developed into an actual product. I'm concerned about what effects the standard "company X owns all work produced whilst employed" has on my ability to take an idea and begin a start-up in my free time.
For example, I've previously made software which collects specific data from the factory floor and displays it live. This software is very specific to the company's needs, but could be generalised and adapted to work across a variety of manufacturing companies.
In theory, this idea could be packaged as a product, sold separately and be the foundation for a software startup. The end product, whilst inspired by the original task, would be very different from its current implementation.
Would the previously mentioned clause mean that the idea (and any development on it) is owned by the employer as it was originally conceived on company time?
Is this still property of the company, no matter how much external development is done?
In a similar vein, If something I encounter at work inspires me with a different idea and I start work on it in my free time rather than during office hours, does the company own that idea? As I wouldn't have encountered the problem my idea solves if I didn't work at the company?
Surely there is a limit to what a company can reasonably claim as their intellectual property, as it seems unreasonable for a magnetics manufacturer to claim a app which provides cooking recipes as IP just because it was developed by one of their employees.
To properly pursue any start-up ideas I have, would I have to be completely unemployed or otherwise out of the industry for a grace period before I can legally work without infringing on the company's IP?
Any help is greatly appreciated!