I used to work for a company, and i was part of a team who produced work product for the clients. In the contract between the employer and client, it says that the client owns the rights, title, and interest in any and all intellectual property or other products or materials created or developed pursuant to this agreement.

The client authorized me to use some of the work product in my portfolio of work, but the previous employer is stating that its their work product and they sent me a cease and desist letter.

Can the employer legally claim ownership and copyright infringement if the contract says that the client owns everything we created? Thank you for your help

  • Where is that? The copyright rules vary greatly between e.g. US and EU.
    – PMF
    Mar 26 at 7:33
  • 1
    Does your employer know that you have proper authorization from the client?
    – nvoigt
    Mar 26 at 7:52

1 Answer 1


Certain details of copyright vary between different jurisdictions. But to me, it looks like a misunderstanding:

  • As an employee, you assigned all rights (all of those which can be transferred) to your employer.
  • The employer then sold them to the client.
  • The client then granted you certain rights, without necessarily telling your employer.

So it could be that the employer thinks they are protecting their professional reputation by making sure that employees do not re-use the content. If you haven't done so, you can contact your employer and inform them of the permission you were granted, and ask if they still want you to cease and desist.

Also, in some jurisdictions you are required to keep interactions between yourself and the employer regarding work like this (but also business plans, pricing decisions, ect.) confidential. Basically, an employment contract implies some sort of NDA. Elsewhere, such confidentiality may be routinely written into employment contracts. The client cannot release you from your duty towards your employer to keep internal communications (including the result of your work) confidential. So the employer might actually have a valid complaint against you, but not on copyright grounds.

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