Hi my name is Aden and this is my first post. I am in a somewhat unusual intellectual property issue and, though I have done a lot of searching, cannot find a direct answer to one of my questions.
Basically I was doing work experience for an organisation (I was definitely not an employee) and I created some software for another organisation while I was there. Recently the question of intellectual ownership of my software has come up and the organisation where I originally created the software (since then I have continued working on it using my own equipment) claims that they have the right to take possession of the intellectual property of my software and gift it to the organisation I created it for. As I was not an employee I don't believe they can do this but they may claim that, because I used their equipment, that they own what I created.
Any input would be greatly appreciated.
Aden, if you didn't sign an agreement giving the company your IP, then you own it, in Australia. Whether you used their equipment is not important for deciding copyright ownership.
You should write them a letter stating that you own the copyright in the software. If you want, you can offer to sell it to them, but you don't have to. Writing a letter helps establish to the employer that you are serious. Also, if they still continued with their plan to give your software to another party, then the existence of your letter would prevent them claiming they weren't aware of your rights.
IP right of work by an employee or by trainee done on employer infrastructure should belong to the employer. In many of the work experience contact this is clearly mentioned. Is there any written contact with your employer for work experience? If is mentioned explicitly in such contract, IP belongs to the employer.
In case it is not, the matter becomes subjective. Is the work you created relates to the work experience you gained at the employers place? Did it took substantial time (official) ? You need to be more clear for a clear answers.
Spend 10 minutes to create a new name, then spend a week re-writing a clean room version of the code. (It's a lot faster to write something a second time)
You will spend more time than that disputing ownership, arguing over who contributed ideas , resources etc without a proper resolution. Let them take what you left on their computer, and when the other organization realizes the maintainer has been forced to walk away from the code they will probably not use it for long.
Re-writing it won't solve the problem that the company wants to gift this software to the client he is hoping to bill.
He needs to fight this if he wants to retain the rights.
If there was no contract you signed, you weren't an employee then I can't honestly see how they can claim ownership of your work. Basically what they're suggesting is that without their equipment you wouldn't have been able to create the software which in itself unless you were doing some high-level stuff that could have only been done on their equipment, then I would fight it.
I'm not a lawyer my advice could be wrong, but in my experience they haven't got a leg to stand on here.