If I wrote a computer program that I use for my work, whose owns it – me or my employer?

UPDATED: Feb 3, 2011

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If I wrote a computer program that I use for my work, whose owns it – me or my employer?

I wrote a computer program in my spare time at home that I use at work to generate information. I keep it on my flash drive and have not installed it on any computers at work. My job refuses to pay me for my time on it but is pressuring me to teach others to use it so they can run when I’m not there. They have told me that once I bring it on to their property it is theirs. Is this true? Do I have to teach them to use? Do they have to compensate me for it?

Asked on February 3, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Georgia


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

This is a really tough question to give guidance on but my gut reaction here is to advise you to seek legal counsel in your area BEFORE you install anything on your employer's computers.  I would not be so quick to believe them on this. Now, if you developed it on their time at their request and in furtherance of their business I would say yes, it is theirs.  If you have a contract that states that development of computer programs for their benefit would be theirs then I would say yes.  But if you were just trying to make your job easier and you developed the program on your own time then I might say it is not theirs but yours.  Seek help.  Good luck.

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