Trial And Appellate Solutions

Do employees have IP on their personal computers?

Things can get very complicated for your business if your employees use their personal computers at work. In fact, some companies prohibit this and maintain that all work has to be done on company machines.

There are a few reasons for this, and it’s important to consider what they are and how they could impact your business. You can set the policies you think are best to protect that information.

Companies own intellectual property

First of all, it is most common for a company to own intellectual property created by the employees. This property was created for the company and while the employee was on the clock. If an employee designed the software system for the business to use, for instance, that system likely belongs to the company. If the employee compiled a contact list, the business likely owns that list of clients and customers.

This is not always true, and some employees have contracts stating that they get to keep their intellectual property. But, in the absence of such a contract, you don’t want your employees to assume that they own everything that they have created for you. That is especially true if they leave and they want to take that intellectual property with them.

Personal computers are a weak link

You also want to consider that allowing employees to have intellectual property on their personal computers means that you have a weak link in your system. It’s harder to determine what employees do with their personal computers, and that means that these systems could be compromised. That information could then be lost through a hack or some other means.

Similarly, if the employee decides to leave the company, they may take their computer with them. This could create a very complex situation where you feel that they have intentionally stolen intellectual property and they claim that they were just taking their personal device when they cleaned out their office.

If you do end up in a situation like this, then it is very important for you and everyone else at the company to know about your legal options.