Tuesday, December 11, 2001

Whenever you start work at a new company, you’re presented with a stack of forms to sign, initial, check off, and even read. I know of nobody who reads through all of this paperwork fully when they’re first employed.

I read every contract I sign, but I’ll admit that I wasn’t very thorough when I came to work at Intersect. So, I’ve decided to follow a piece of advice I came across awhile back: Every year or so, review your contracts. I grabbed a copy of our Employee Agreement, and re-read it.

And, interestingly, there’s a glitch.

[Garden at night]

This agreement exists to spell out the company’s rules on intellectual property. Intellectual property law can cause a lot of trouble, so both sides of a full page are devoted to making the entire subject clear. If I create something at Intersect, it belongs to Intersect. If I create something on my own that demonstrably competes with Intersect’s products, it belongs to Intersect. If I leave, I can’t actively recruit Intersect employees for the next year, and I can’t work for an active competitor for the next two years. Tough rules, but they’re required to work here.

OK, no problems thus far. Then, I read the following paragraph:

I understand that the provisions of this Agreement requiring assignment of Inventions to the Company do not apply to any invention that (i) I develop entirely on my own time; and (ii) I develop without using Company equipment, supplies, facilities, or trade secret information. [snip] Any such invention will be owned entirely by me, even if developed by me during the time period in which I am employed by the Company. I will advise the Company promptly in writing of any inventions that I believe meet the criteria for exclusion set forth herein and are not otherwise disclosed. [snip]

In other words, if I develop an invention that is not obviously company property, I still have to notify the company that I made it.

Well, Landscape is definitely an invention of mine. It presents a radically unusual way of organizing and launching applications.

According to my employment agreement, I am required to “advise the Company” of my development of Landscape. I sent an e-mail to our main administrative person, explaining this situation, and am looking forward to her response. Perhaps I’ll have to demo Landscape to the entire executive board.

Brent: “Now, uhhhh, you click here, and drag this, and see how you can move around? Oh, that isn’t working quite right yet. And double-click this to launch it. That’s it. I’m…still getting the kinks worked out.”
Executive: “…We had to schedule a meeting to see this?”

Anyway, I’ve got a new poll. Here are the results of the last one:

Is Gurney lazy?
Yes, a lot of the time. (0%)
No, not at all. (20%)
Sometimes (60%)
Pretty often (20%)

And on an unrelated note, I discovered today that you can buy cel phone service from 7–11.

Let me repeat that.

You can buy cel phone service from 7–11.

Cel phone service.

From 7–11.

I must admit, when I think of reliable telecommunications service, the first things that pops into my head are Slurpees, candy bars, and hot dogs so greasy you can feel each bite sliming ectoplasm down your throat.

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