Q: How do I protect my Intellectual Property?
Welcome to Episode #17 of Engineering Career TV. The topic for this episode is Intellectual Property Protection in your Engineering Career.
I will spend most of the Engineering Career TV episodes answering questions that have been submitted from engineers around the world on how to rapidly advance their careers and live the lives they want to live.
You can submit questions for the show by clicking here.
Let’s jump into today’s topic, Intellectual Property Protection in your Engineering Career, which is based on a question from Sam, who asks the following:
Q: Hello, I’m a civil engineer from the San Francisco Bay Area. I have a question about intellectual property in engineering and architecture. Having worked for different engineering design firms for over 10 years, I’ve always signed an employment contract stating that I will not take any of their calculations or any creative work that I created during my time of employment.
Now I’m well into my career, and I’m wanting to do side work or even thinking about starting my own firm someday but since I took no plans, calculations or details from my previous employers, I really don’t have a personal engineering library. Can you please clarify the boundaries of intellectual property for engineering employers and employees? Legally speaking as an engineering employee, am I allowed legally to take anything from my employer for my own private practice?
If the answer is no, plain and simple. Do you have any advice on how to build your own personal engineering library of details and calculations? Thanks for your answer, and for doing your show.
A: The full answer can be seen in the Engineering Career TV video above, but here are a few of the main points:
- Have a lawyer draft some kind of clause that could be added into the contract that allows you to retain your own designs, retain copyright or the right to use and transfer your own designs to future endeavors.
- You might have a company say no, and then you have to go work for another company but you know what, in the long-run, if you’re going to build a library that can be used to build a business, this is extremely valuable to you.
- You want to retain as much of your own design as possible, so you can create your own library.
- No matter how much it cost to retain a lawyer, it can be worth a lot more than what they’re charging you in the long run.
Resources mentioned in today’s Engineering Career TV:
I hope you found this episode of Engineering Career TV helpful.
What questions do you have about intellectual property protection?
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success