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Recently I have been receiving private messages from two former colleagues whom I worked closely with while was working as an intern at my previous workplace. The first guy was my supervisor, he wanted me to work on a project I was solely working on as an intern (now the project needs to go on the market but it had one issue of missing component), I initially accepted the request to work on it because I felt I didn't leave enough documentation on most of the components. After the first fix, I got another issue fix request but I turned it down and since then he don't connect with me on WhatsApp like before. ( I'm a bit worried but I think what I did what's right ).

Just today, I was contacted again by another colleague, this time he needs help on a project they are about work on. When I was there, normally on my leisure time, I research on how to build applications on the company's APIs and one idea that came up was Invoicing. I started working on the idea and even started coding from the company assigned laptop ( It wasn't a crime as an intern and as long as the company didn't have such project, I was okay to work on it). I did asked questions on how the existing system works and this colleague was always explaining things and at that time I had no intentions to leave the company so I was planning to discuss the idea with the CTO and unfortunately I couldn't have the chance before my internship ended and I left the company. Now this friend said he need help on how I was implementing the invoicing idea as they have a new CTO and they want to implement something like that, but I want to turn his request down because after my research I realize that the idea was bright and I have been working on it ( implementation and connecting with potential investors (local banks)).

I don't know if I'm doing is right or wrong regarding my relationship with them personally and legally is it okay continue with the implementation as my own product?

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    Are you getting paid for this work? If not, why bother? – sf02 Nov 13 '19 at 17:37
  • no I'm not getting paid, but these guys job positions are on the red line.. apart from the individual relationship.. I'm not ready to work for their company even if they are paying me. – Joshua Stephens Nov 13 '19 at 17:42
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    Their job positions being on the red line is not your problem. Ultimately, they are the ones getting paid for your work and you are left with nothing. And the fact that one stopped communicating after you turned down a request indicates there is no real relationship, they are just using you – sf02 Nov 13 '19 at 17:43
  • It's not clear to me what you're asking. Are you asking if it's OK to associate with these people? Are you asking if it's OK to work on their product without being paid for that work? Are you asking if there's a conflict of interest regarding the work you've done for them and the work you're doing at your current employer? What is is that you're asking, exactly? – joeqwerty Nov 13 '19 at 17:45
  • @joeqwerty I'm interested in working on the product as my own business product, my current employer is into a different thing and per the employee policy I'm okay to work on any thing once it's not on working hours and it doesn't conflict with it's business goals – Joshua Stephens Nov 13 '19 at 18:01
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I would just go ahead and develop it myself. It's just an idea you had. Not something that was in any way company property.

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I started working on the idea and even started coding from the company assigned laptop ( It wasn't a crime as an intern and as long as the company didn't have such project, I was okay to work on it).

As I understand, you worked on company laptop, on company time, and (likely, less relevant) on company money.

I would assume that the work you did belongs to the company, and if you use it outside, for whatever purpose, you might get into trouble.

It should be fine though to implement the same idea, but with different implementation, to avoid legal (intellectual property) troubles.


legally is it okay continue with the implementation as my own product?

As I already mentioned, it is OK only if yo do a new different implementation, and only if you do not use intellectual property or other secrets belonging to the company.


Relationship with former colleagues

If you like it, you might go out for some beer, or any other free-time activity. That is your only relationship with them now.

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As an "intern" did you have a contract? You mention that you did the work in your "free time." The company or legal jurisdiction may disagree that the time was "yours" if you had access to company property, assets and ideas. Also, since you did development on their property, you should be certain that you own the work that you did.

Consider this, if the company had not provided you with equipment and resources, you would probably not have been able to produce the work you now have. Thus, a contract is critical to delineating these, if one exists. Otherwise, the legal jurisdiction of your government may have rules that apply.

To be safe, you should re-develop your work to avoid these issues (I recognize how annoying that statement is, as I have done it myself). If you feel confident that you are in the clear on these issues, then there is the matter of your former colleagues.

When they ask for help, you should respond with, "I'm happy to help. What is the hourly rate for my consulting?" Your knowledge is clearly valuable, and you should get something in return. That may be awkward with a "friend" but if they try to imply you should do it for free as a "favor," remind them that your entire internship was for free. It helped you and them. Now, the internship is over and you would like compensation, just like the person asking you for help is receiving compensation for their work.

If they are your future competitors, you should "be nice" until they are actually your competitors. Be careful about your IP rights, since if this really makes you a lot of money, the people you formerly worked with will probably remember you, and legal issues will follow. The world is big, and yet it is small...

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