I've already posted this on the G-Code forum without a poll, but felt it would be a good poll. Are the programs we write as CNC Programmers our "intellectual property", or that of the company we work for? Legal references?
Well - For me it was pretty cut and dried.
Its my computer. Its software I purchased outside the company and without reimbursement. The CAD files I make on company time I leave backups for them. The G-Code I write I also provide them with copies. However I reserve the right to use that same code elsewhere. Also they have the CAD files, and G-code for the machine the job was written for, if they need code for a non compatible machine, they can pay me again, or find another source.
Software companies will make you sign an intellectual property agreement that makes it clear they own anything you do on their nickel, even if you work on it at home.
I'll bet very few machine shops have such agreements.
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If it's done on their dime, by an employee of theirs, then they don't even need a written agreement. It's a work for hire by default. The creator needs to prove that they were not working as an employee at the time, and that could be tough if there's a clear employee/employer relationship (common law of agency; it's on the wiki).
Here is my two cents. I feel that the programs that we write are property of the company that you have been payed to create them for but at the same time if you get creative and decide to take it to the next step and create macros you are free to use the same design for other customers as long as there is no written document preventing you to do so and it does not create direct competition for the other company. I feel a programmer is entitled to their creativity and knowledge that they acquired and companies cannot prevent one from retaining knowledge.
The program is company's property, 'cause you get paid to make them. And what you learn is your to keep. That's legit.
The best way to learn is trial error.
Write your Macro library on your time. If you made a specific part program so the part itself is made at a new company, they could nail you for industrial espionage If you have a Macro library that you pull and use inside of a program while changing the perimeters, I think that might fly as okay.
Doing the work with your computer and your CAM program on their time is no different than my using my machinist tools and demanding that I am entitled to the parts i made when I leave. My tools after all. That don't fly, why would your work on their time fly as your intellectual property? It's why you do your Macro library on your time.
So if I write a mill program to drill and tap some 1/2-13's, and I see someone else with the same program I can sue them for copyright infringement?
Sounds like an oppurtunity for Hurco...
a pc is a tool of the trade just as a pair of calipers are , it doesn't give an employee the legal right to keep company models , programs , etc .
when a customer walks into a company with a drawing asking for parts to be made , that customer owns the drawing that the company will use to make that customers parts , the customer owns the rights to that drawing and the parts that are made , how the company goes about making the parts , be it programming , fixturing , tooling etc, is owned by the company unless a deal is made for the customer to purchase the programs and the fixturing , now the company no longer owns it because the customer does , if the company then continues to produce and sell the parts without the consent of the customer then the company is open to legal actions . so why would it be different for an employee ?
i do prototype , R&D and design etc , the work that i get paid to do for the company is the companies property period . the designs the ideas the programs the fixtures , drawings in process or drawings that have become dust piles
can I use the fixturing methods , programming methods that i learn over the years , sure that's what experience is about , i certainly wouldn't copy a companies custom made macro and use it elsewhere cause I'm not going to risk being sued , but i'd make my own based from example .
it boils down to integrity and being in a position of trust , the company trusts me and pays me to do what I do
A poet knows no boundary yet he is bound to the boundaries of ones own mind !! ........
this area of law is actually quite complicated. There is really no clear cut rules, but I would say in general if you get paid for something then that implies you sold it.
Generally in law, its the person with the most money that is right (not "Just") because they can bury you in paperwork. Unless of course your a lawyer as your hobby.
I am a business owner and make custom parts and really could give a rats arse if someone takes all my programs and uses them! they still have to go out there are try to steal my customers....good luck with that! its all competition and capitalism....bring it on!
"If you don't stand for something, chances are, you'll fall for anything!"
Never mind about the ownership of what you write, what about the ownership of what you see; fixtures, programs, set-ups, whatever.
A long time ago before I started my own company I worked for several different companies and often I observed fixture designs at one company, that is fixtures other employees had made, and then used derivations of these designs when employed at other companies. That is what gaining experience is all about. Was this 'industrial espionage'? Was it unethical?
Now I have employees and I assume that some of them, when they move on to other jobs, will use ideas and methods that they have learnt while in my employ. Should I try to stop them doing this?
An open mind is a virtue...so long as all the common sense has not leaked out.