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Microsoft Rewarding Employees Who Phone It In 280

theodp writes "For developers who are all about the Benjamins, Microsoft has come up with an intriguing alternative to Google's vaunted 20% time. To boost the number of Windows Phone 7 apps, Microsoft has relaxed a strict rule and will let employees moonlight and keep the resulting intellectual property and 70% of the revenue, as long as that second job is writing apps for WP7-based devices. The rule change offers an option for employees who don't want to leave for the insecurity of a start-up, but still want a shot at recognition and rewards for their own ideas."
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Microsoft Rewarding Employees Who Phone It In

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 27, 2011 @11:24AM (#35330512)

    You rephrase it the other way: "Go ahead and start a business in your free time, as long as you're getting all your work done here including meeting time and face time. Oh, but that business has to be for Windows Phone 7 apps, and we'll take 30 percent."

  • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mfh ( 56 ) on Sunday February 27, 2011 @11:28AM (#35330552) Homepage Journal

    Seriously, is it common (in the states) to "own" your employees even when they are not at work?

    You would be surprised, but yes it is very common for companies to claim IP over things created even when an employee is doing them on their own free time. Companies argue that exposure to their policies arguably enabled the person to create the product, service or technology... which is wrong in my opinion but it still happens. I think that if you work for a company and there aren't explicit agreements in place you are protected in most states but you should definitely check first before starting up something awesome.

    This is bad for all of us because it slows down the invention of new things to the angular flow rate of cold molasses.

  • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 27, 2011 @11:43AM (#35330658)

    I had to look into this when my previous employer wanted to change the contracts.

    Basically they added a catch all, anything you think or do belongs to us (first borns included). So if you are programmer but come up with a new clothes line peg they own the IP.

    The actual law is actually more sensible, if you come up with something you'd be expected to do in your job the company owns the IP, otherwise you do. For instance as a programmer if I come up with a new piece of software the company could argue it is their IP, but if I make and sell some artwork I own it.

    All been said it is a bit of a grey area and getting it tested in court would be expensive for any normal person.

    Captcha:Stolen :)

  • 20% time? Not really (Score:5, Interesting)

    by adenied ( 120700 ) on Sunday February 27, 2011 @01:35PM (#35331426)

    Someone from Google can correct me if I'm really wrong here, but I've asked a number of Google developers if they really get to use their 20% time. The general answers have been either "Yeah right. Hardly anyone does." to "Sure! I can use 20% of the 60-70 hours a week I regularly am at the campus on whatever I want."

    Not sure if that's really what people think about when they hear about the 20% time philosophy. Seems like it's more of a marketing / recruiting thing.

  • Re:Wow! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Sunday February 27, 2011 @06:37PM (#35333338)
    I don't buy this concept in most cases, including the one involving the ratchet, with which I am somewhat familiar.

    The guy could have gotten the same idea from simply disassembling a socket wrench in his garage, or just from general knowledge about how they are built. I doubt that it takes years of work in a wrench factory to really have such ideas.

    My father worked for a carpet manufacturer once, teaching them how to install their own carpet (which was physically different from other brands). He was a leader and innovator in the field... he taught himself how to do it better than anyone else when they first started manufacturing the stuff.

    He invented a new kind of tool for trimming the carpet around the edges during installation (where it meets the wall). It saved a lot of time and effort. But his contract said that any inventions he made while in their employ would belong to them.

    That would be understandable if the company had really taught him the knowledge to do the job... but in fact HE was teaching THEM, and they had no part whatever in the invention of this tool. So they got ownership of it, manufactured and sold it, and he got nothing.

    I think scenarios like that are more common than many people think. Or at least where the company contributed little or nothing to the actual idea or its implementation, and doesn't deserve to own it.

Things are not as simple as they seems at first. - Edward Thorp