Can I claim ownership of software that I designed/wrote for a small company if I didn’t sign an intellectual property agreement?

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Can I claim ownership of software that I designed/wrote for a small company if I didn’t sign an intellectual property agreement?

My employer pays me a very modest salary that is not even remotely commensurate with my skill/experience level as a software engineer. This is because I’m a felon, and he is taking advantage of the fact that it’s difficult for me to find employment. I designed and wrote a software package that I would like to prevent my employer from continuing to use if I leave the company. Preferably, I would

like to charge my employer a monthly fee for its continued use if I leave the company. Are either of these scenarios possible?

Asked on May 15, 2018 under Business Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

You indicate that you "designed/wrote" the software "for a small company"--that is, you did it as part of your employment. In that case, it belongs to him even without you signing an intellectual property agreement. Anything an employee does as part of his/her job or for his/her employer is a "work made for hire" and automatically belongs to the employer.


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