Wanting to start up whilst employer is in same industry


I am currently employed in queensland Australia and working for a company who delivers training to industry, they have developed online learning resources and a few websites for industry bodies.
I would like to develop a smart phone app which will help people involved in this industry make an easy decision on what products are needed to complete their job. I have since heard from a colleague that my boss had similar plans but have not heard this from my boss.
Would this be a conflict of interest if my employer has not started to develop this app himself?
What potential issues could arise from me quietly developing the app in my own time not using any of my employers resources.

Application Legal Conflict Of Interest

asked Jun 25 '13 at 19:54
21 points
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  • What does it say in your contract of employment? – Bhttoan 7 years ago

4 Answers


You are raising very important question. Many employers do not want their employees performing these kind of activities if you are still under contract. Please check the contract. The other question is how will you prove that you are not doing any activities for developing your app. If it states in the contract it can be a conflict. In many cases results of you brain work will belong to your employer. My advice - read the cotract and may be talk to attorney (lawyer) first.

PS Please see my comment below where I refered to an article on Techcrunch.

answered Jun 25 '13 at 20:40
Alexey Grigoryev
62 points


Yes, this is a conflict of interest.

You have 3 "safe" choices (each choice has some real downsides, sorry):

  1. Quit before starting developing the app
  2. Talk to your boss and get permission
  3. Get real legal advice from a local lawyer

Usually I also suggest just going forward and sorting things out later but competing with an employer is just asking for trouble (I also believe its unethical)

answered Jun 30 '13 at 22:03
1,569 points


This is a conflict of interest and I wouldn't recommend pursuing this idea.

The idea stemmed from your day job, where your company pays you to provide for yourself and your family for your duties and your time and effort on their products and services. If an idea comes out of the experience you learned and gained there and is a solution or invention to help an industry you wouldn't know anything about except from your employment with your employeer then you should go through the appropriate channels at work to pursue this idea.

Ideas are everywhere. Why not bring this up to management and get this going to improve your company, your pay and your situation in your business. If your ultimate goal is to become an entrepreneur or product developer just do something outside of your employers industry.

If you do want to pursue it - it would be best to quit your job and then focus on it.

Also - as others mentioned - if you have a contract then there may be some rules in place about this situation.

answered Jul 2 '13 at 11:53
Ryan Doom
5,472 points


I have recently started my own company few months ago and we are working on similar technologies which my previous employer is in. Now my previous employer is one of my clients.(fyi, we are into mobile app solutions).

It may be conflict of interest, but come on I cannot come up with an extra-ordinarily brilliant idea for let's say Banking industry if I am working in a Shipping industry. It's very obvious that you get ideas which are similar to that of your employers because you are in same industry. It does not mean you throw your idea and work on completely new idea which is not of interest to your employer.

The fact that your employer is having similar idea as yours does validate that it's a sellable idea!

Few suggestions:

  1. Leave the day job and work on idea.
  2. Develop this idea for your company and get good promotion if it's successful.
  3. Hire a freelancer to develop the app for you. This will ensure that you are spending only some money and not your time without breaching the contract.
answered Jun 25 '13 at 20:58
5 points
  • Sorry but I don't like this answer at all - firstly doing something in the same industry is very different to doing exactly the same thing as your employer is about to do in the same industry.Also your third point is incorrect - if your contract prohibits you from doing this then whether you code it or pay someone to code it makes no difference - it would be breach of contract – Bhttoan 7 years ago

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