If I had an internship at a firm where I developed an idea that I pitched to them but they rejected part of the idea yet used another part, can I continue the creation of my idea?

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If I had an internship at a firm where I developed an idea that I pitched to them but they rejected part of the idea yet used another part, can I continue the creation of my idea?

I never signed any papers, they paid me irregularly and I had no benefits (not even a W2 or 1099 form). What possible claims do they have on me?

Asked on September 15, 2014 under Employment Labor Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

You certainly could not use the part of the idea that they accepted; that would unquestionably be something you developed as part of your employment, and so be something that they own. In the absence of any agreement about intellectual property, you *may* be able to continue with other parts of your idea, but be prepared that, if it turns out to be valuable and anyone there either remembers that you pitched it to them and/or it is too close to what they have themselves used, they may seek to take legal action against you. They would not be guaranteed to win, but under the circumstances, 1) they certainly would have enough to at least get into court, and force you to defend yourself; and 2) it is *possible* they could win if they could show that whether they ran with it or not, you only developed it as part of your employment and/or using company resources or information.


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