A former employer of mine (5 years ago) just sent me an email out of the blue with an updated Intellectual Property Agreement notably more complex than the one I recall signing when I started with them. I don't really have any interest in their IP or anything I worked on with them, but I also don't really like needlessly engaging in contracts, especially with people I don't feel like I left with the best terms (I quit because they were being super shady).

The agreement looks relatively straightforward, though some of the clauses look suspiciously like non-compete agreements, and I don't see a particularly compelling reason why I should sign. What's the worst that happens to me if I don't sign (or even acknowledge) this agreement, assuming I don't do anything to violate my original agreement or anything otherwise damaging/malicious to them?

Both me and the company in question are in CO, USA.

  • 13
    What is forcing you to sign an IP agreement with someone you work for 5 years ago? do you do any consulting with them?
    – MattR
    May 16, 2019 at 19:42
  • 20
    I'd strongly advise not signing, almost no good can come of this. Contact a lawyer if you are worried. But I expect if you don't sign nothing at all will happen. (What can they do, fire you?)
    – Vality
    May 16, 2019 at 19:48
  • 9
    Possible duplicate of What benefits are there in signing a non-compete after resigning, with no formal contract of employment? The circumstances aren't exactly the same, but what's in the answers covers it.
    – Blrfl
    May 16, 2019 at 19:54
  • 2
    "What's the worst that happens to me if I don't sign (or even acknowledge) this agreement, assuming I don't do anything to violate my original agreement or anything otherwise damaging/malicious to them?" Nothing.
    – sf02
    May 16, 2019 at 20:15
  • 9
    Hit the delete button and move on. There is no reason to compel you to do anything for a former employer, especially one you don't plan on returning to. May 16, 2019 at 21:09

3 Answers 3


However straightforward it appears to be, you have nothing at all to gain from signing it. And there is the potential to lose out if you accidentally breach something after signing it.

Losing out might be getting sued, or losing the opportunity to apply for a job elsewhere.

  • This is pretty much what I was thinking, but it's certainly good to hear from someone else.
    – Garandy
    May 17, 2019 at 0:26

Unless you're still working with them in some capacity don't sign it, they can't legally force you to sign, they have no leverage over you to make you sign it and if you do sign it you could be setting yourself up for issues in the future if you accidentally breach it somehow. I would delete the email without even responding.


Why not just ask them?

This could be email sent by mistake.

If they say the want you to sign it tell them to kcuf off.

  • 11
    As entertaining and appealing as this answer is, contacting them just to tell them to eff off is not a productive or professional approach to the problem.
    – Summer
    May 16, 2019 at 21:56
  • @bruglesco so what is a productive or professional approach?
    – Solar Mike
    May 16, 2019 at 22:12
  • @bruglesco Such agreements are implied threats to sue you at some point in the future. Telling someone to eff off after they've gone out of their way to interrupt your life with an implied future legal threat is not professional, but it's entirely productive as it establishes immediately that you're not going to put up with it.
    – Joe
    May 16, 2019 at 23:36
  • 3
    @Joe that's a disingenuous interpretation. The only legal implication is if you sign it. The company is acting as threatening as a Nigerian Prince asking for ten grand. The best course of action remains ignoring it.
    – Summer
    May 16, 2019 at 23:41
  • A few other former employees I keep in touch with have gotten similar emails, and the text of the email indicates that they've recently had a "review of the corporate structure that has necessitated" these addendums being signed.
    – Garandy
    May 17, 2019 at 0:22

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