If I write a peace of software at work without being instructed to do so which increases productivity, do I have any rights to that software?

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If I write a peace of software at work without being instructed to do so which increases productivity, do I have any rights to that software?

I designed a macro (software that automates repetitive tasks) at work, on work time, without instruction to do so. This macro has increased productivity noticeably. I’d like to negotiate payment. What legal rights (if any) do I have that will be helpful for this?

Asked on January 13, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Idaho

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, if you were an employee, if you designed the macro at work, you probably have no rights--anything you create at work or for work, while an employee, belongs to the employer. If you'd created it on your own time, for unrelated purposes, you might have a right to it, but based on the facts, that could be difficult to show.

If you were an independent contractor and you were not hired to write this macro, it should be outside the scope of your engagement and belong to you, unless your service, independent contractor, etc. agreement with the employer provides otherwise.


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