I've gone through the long and draining process of searching for and finding a new job, so that I can leave my current employer for a whole bunch of reasons, most of which come down to "I'm bored". I'll go into detail in a later entry, maybe.
The only hurdle remaining is the intellectual property "agreement" I've been asked to sign. I put the word "agreement" in quotes as the process is absolutely nothing like two parties reaching an agreement. The process usually goes something like this - you are given the "agreement", you ask for changes to the more onerous clauses, and you are then told that it's never changed for individual employees and is a "standard contract" (an oxymoron if ever there was one). Then I basically have to threaten to not sign on for the job, then the legal department (or whoever is stonewalling) finally allows at least *some* change in, and we compromise.
It is an incredible pain in the neck. The problem with this one is that is basically says "all your IP base are belong to us". Anything I create, or even *think* of without doing anything about, becomes the "property" of the new employer. And not just code, but all kinds of documents and even *music* as well. And all regardless of whether it has anything to do with the new employer's actual business or not. If it is successful, they can just take it, as it stands. I can understand them not wanting me to compete with them - but this is just *ridiculously* broad. I can't understand the motivation for wording it like this, apart from the obvious evil ones. I just hope it's unintentional.
This is a real problem for me right now as I have one or two open source projects I work on, and I would like to *continue* working on them! That's what gives me the motivation to ask for the changes. I can certainly see why most people don't seem to be bothered standing up for themselves over this - it's not an easy thing to do, and you have to be careful not to be seen as a troublemaker before you even start. Fortunately, this time around, it seems like everyone I've spoken to about it seems to be on my side - it's like they just didn't realize how the wording hurts open source development, and are willing to make the small changes I need. So that's good.
I've sent off my proposed changes, based loosely on wording provided by SAGE-AU. If anyone else needs examples of OSS-friendly wording, this is a great place to start. The discussion with the legal people on their side is underway, so I should hear back tomorrow.
Right now I really wish I had a regular lawyer type person I could use to help me with these issues quickly. I'm having to do things like propose the wording for the changes, and I'm just not comfortable doing that. Since I've never had any legal problems, I just don't have anyone to see. Maybe I should break some laws or something, then I'll have an excellent working relationship with a wide variety of legal professionals. Or maybe I should find out if it's possible to find a good lawyer, and give them a brief overview of my situation so that when something like this does come up I'll be ready. It seems dangerous to sort of wait for something to happen, then you have to find a lawyer who understands the issues *and* have them understand your point of view and situation immediately.