Before I ask the question, I want to be clear that I understand that you are not my lawyer, this advice is not specific to the jurisdiction in question, etc. I understand all the disclaimers, and we have a lawyer we can contact for specific advice depending on the answers my husband gets tomorrow from his (future) employer. That lawyer is simply not available to us tonight.
That said, we have questions pertaining to the following situation, and a little bit of generic advice would be appreciated.
My husband received a copy of his contract to work as a full-time employee at Company X. It’s a pretty standard contract, and he understands and agrees with all but one clause - the ownership of inventions clause. While he understands the need for it, and agrees in principle that his work belongs to X, the specific wording of the clause is worrisome. It reads, in it’s entirety, as follows:
I’m pretty sure that in most jurisdictions, this type of clause is unenforcable. X seems to be saying that anything hubby would create, even if he was doing it as a hobby, or at a part-time, side job, whether or not related to the business that X is in, it would still belong to X. The job is as a software developer in simulators. This week, he wrote a small code to deal with wireless networking… had he already signed the contract, would that belong to X? The language is just so vague, hubby is very uncomforatble signing it. How can X control what he does during his off hours?
He’ll be asking the HR person about it, seeing if it can’t be clarified (in writing!) or even reworded or removed entirely, but what kind of possible outcomes are there here? What might he be facing, and what should be do in response. We don’t want to go to a lawyer on this, because it seems a little extreme for an otherwise dream job, but it seems like such an all-encompasing clause…!
What options should we be considering here?
Also (and this is somewhat of an aside, more out of curiosity than anything else please focus on the questions above!), how can that last statment be enforced? How can a contract that Hubby signs be binding to me, as his spouse (assign, heir, executor, representative)? I didn’t sign it, so in general, are these kinds of clauses enforcable? He can’t sign a contract on my behalf, can he?
Anyways, any advice or suggestions you SDMB lawyers might be willing to share before early tomorrow morning would be appreciated. We just don’t know if this is as extreme a wording as we think it is, or if we shouldn’t worry about it at all. Contracts in my line of work haven’t been that explicit in their restrictions.
Thanks for any help you can offer. Again, I understand that advice on a messageboard is not real legal advice, etc. Still, it’s nice to know there’s a group of intelligent people out there who might be able to at least point us in the right direction