Intellectual Property and Side-Projects in Western Europe


Joel's answer on "If I'm working at a company, do they have intellectual property rights to the stuff I do in my spare time?" certainly was an interesting read. However, it was pretty much centred around USA law.

Therefore, I ask you: what is the legal situation regarding code copyright and side-projects in Western Europe (specifically Germany, the Netherlands and the UK)?

PS. Since the original question was asked on OnStartups, I'm asking this question here as well.

Employees Intellectual Property

asked Sep 30 '11 at 01:23
123 points

1 Answer


I recently did a software development job in a Malta which contained a few clauses about doing 'creative work' outside of work hours and how the company would have rights to it. I brought this up and said to the HR person that it seems to me that even if I were to write a song then the company would own it (if I signed the contract). The HR person removed the clauses after getting permission from their head office (in the US).

After chatting about this with a few people I was told by a few people that this type of clause would never be recognised in European courts (don't know if this is true, but sounds plausible). Still I would never agree to anybody having rights to what I do outside of work.

answered Sep 30 '11 at 08:34
Dan Mac Bean
151 points

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