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I was selling a library/framework/tool to companies. Licensing the binaries. Now I got a full-time-job. Haven't started yet, but will start soon. And I just got a request for quote from a company in the same industry as my new employer. Not direct competitors, but same industry. Is it ok for me to license my software to them? Or this will put me in trouble with my soon-to-be employer? I don't think asking the company is even appropriate at this time. They are giving me a job to work for them, not to ask if I can sell my software on the side. No idea what to do. Any recommendations?

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2 Answers 2

This depends on your employment agreement and how it is worded. Bare in mind IANAL.

If you are licensing your software and you don't exclude parties my response would be to offer a license, perhaps gratis or discounted, to your new employer. As you are not doing work, or "work for hire" but are instead selling a product to their competitor, I doubt you would be breaking your agreement.

You could also try and complete the transaction prior to your agreement coming into effect.

I would suggest you're open and upfront with your new employer about your business, not necessarily your customers as that is commercially sensitive. Gauge their reaction and response. Ensure they have no claim to anything you do outside of working hours.

If they don't agree to your terms you can either discontinue your product or find another employer.

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It all depends on agreement/contract; and mutual relations. If it aint in the employment agreement (directly or indirectly), then it wont work. –  Purnil Soni Sep 6 '13 at 9:57

Employee agreements, like any other agreement or contract, are subject to the law. For a variety of reasons it is a legal and common practice to include unenforceable clauses in a contract. Unfortunately, to decipher a contract you must understand the contract AND the pertinent law. (Great way for lawyers to make money.)

One famous example is a large East coast computer manufacturer that forced contractors to sign an agreement giving the employer rights to all patents and inventions that were created before, during AND after the contract. Despite being in a contract it was not enforceable.

No company can restrict an employee's right to earn additional income as long as the employee is not competing against their own employer.

If there is any way your product could be construed to compete with your employer, you will be risking legal action. However since you are selling to your employer's competitor you should consult a lawyer.

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