I know how to build certain API/Product. Basically my style of developing such product is almost same all the time.

  1. One company reached me seeing my open source contribution, I joined, and we ended up creating a product X. It is to be noted there is at least 10+ similar/same product in the market.

  2. Later on, I left the company, another person contacted me and when he was sharing his idea, I noticed it was similar product.

  3. I was also planning to create an open source version of similar product. Because the problem that the product solves should have this certain pattern.

  4. All of the companies always talked how it was "one of their hundred ideas".

This might be a good example,

Say I know how to build search engines, think google asked me to build them a search engine and later yahoo asked same, meanwhile I also wanted to open source the idea since I know how to build them.

another example but more specific,

say I know how to build ecommerce websites. Now company X asked me to build a ecommerce shop that sells books, I built it with them. Later company Y asked for same. But I also wanted to create my own book shop too and open source it.

There are other ideas for building ecommerce websites, but most companies (or startups) always talks as if I would be stealing their ideas if I build same product later.

All of the examples above were just for sake of example and not the real product info.

Now considering I am not hired by both companies right now, but may have to work (again) with them in future, the problem is,

  • Can the company have rights to claim it was their idea and stop me from re-creating same product later if there are 10+ of same product in the market?
  • Can I create open source version of same/similar product?
  • Can I work with other companies who builds same product?

The more I work with certain company, the more I ended up not having a chance building a similar product in end if this continues. So each time some company reaches me and I work for them, I'll have to learn something else to keep going in future.

How does the freelancer/developer community tackle such issue?

  • What contracts you signed say about this? May 12, 2018 at 7:39
  • I am absolutely not sure why I am getting downvotes. :/ Isn't this a valid question? May 14, 2018 at 14:03
  • @AdrianoRepetti there wasn't much about it, but can a contract prevent me from doing so? May 14, 2018 at 14:04
  • 1
    AFAIK (but IANAL) one company may write in the contract that you cannot work for a competitor (assuming you are not a contractor and that the product isn't just a tool but what they sell). Also, the first company may have a patent on that product (AFAIK in most countries simple knowledge isn't covered by copyright laws). In short...well...if there isn't anything about it in the contract then probably you can do what you want (better to consult a lawyer) but it may also burn bridges with the first company if it's the product they sell. If it's a tool they may even decide to support it... May 14, 2018 at 15:04

1 Answer 1


Ideas are not protected. If you signed an NDA or non compete agreement, you would have to follow what the NDA or non compete agreement says, or get a lawyer. If you wrote software where the first company owns the copyright, you can't use that.

But ideas are not protected. And if you are contacted by a second company, you can talk to them, and tell them about the first company, and they can check if their lawyer is fine with it.

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