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I'm an employed software developer. According to my contract, all the code I write for my employer, belongs to my employer.

However, I wrote some code at home, which uses my employers in-house SDK. This SDK is open accessible via our website, so basically my code could have been written by anyone and I never have been told to write it or such.
I just wrote it to make my own work easier.

The SDK is under copyright but everyone can download it at my employers website.

The issued code is in Lua, a script language which is not compiled and thus no part of the SDK is inside the code. It just needs the SDK to run.

Due I have written it in private time and it never has been part of a project officially, do I own the rights on it?

I'd like to use this code as a coding example in a hiring process.

More specific:
I'm writing applications for a micro controller which is a house development of my employer. I wrote some functions for this controller, for example one which saves the framebuffer into .bmp or such.

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  • "The SDK is under copyright" - what kind of copyright? What permissions does the copyright grant you? May 23, 2016 at 13:15
  • The readme just says: "(c) COMPANY NAME AND ADDRESS The software is provided "as is" and the author disclaims all warranties with regard to this software including all implied warranties of merchantability and fitness. In no event shall the author be liable for any special, direct, indirect, or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of this software."
    – jawo
    May 23, 2016 at 13:17
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    That "readme" doesn't look like a copyright to me. May 23, 2016 at 13:22
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    IANAL but if you used the code at work to make your own work easier then I would take that as code for your employer.
    – paparazzo
    May 23, 2016 at 13:49
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    This looks like a purely legal question to me. Voting to close as off-topic. AFAIK, the answer would depend on the jurisdiction and type of employment contract.
    – sleske
    May 23, 2016 at 14:29

2 Answers 2

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This is going to depend on the contract you signed.

Some employers do stipulate that all ideas created by the employee are theirs, no matter where and how they were created. Other employers are more lenient in what they claim as theirs.

Another point to consider is did you write your code on your own computer, or on a company supplied computer?

When it comes down to it you need to inspect your contract (which we can't do unless you hold it up to the monitor), plus IANAL, so I can't advise on legal issues.

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  • Why the down vote?
    – Peter M
    May 23, 2016 at 13:21
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    Some people seem to downvote answers they don't like, independent of correctness. I've stopped trying to understand drive-by downvotes.
    – keshlam
    May 23, 2016 at 14:53
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Does the company web site where the SDK can be downloaded require any kind of authentication and do you have to acknowledge the terms of service before downloading? It does not sound like its open to the public. If it is not, and your code could not have been written without the SDK, then the code you wrote is company property.

Maybe you could put a "credit" into your source code?

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  • You need to check your contract with the company. In our field the contract often does say the company would own this.
    – keshlam
    May 23, 2016 at 14:56
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    This doesn't really make sense. As an analogy, I need to download the Java SDK in order to make a Java program. But that certainly doesn't mean that Oracle owns my Java program. Regardless of what their terms say.
    – Brandin
    May 23, 2016 at 18:43
  • Brandin You ar eactually driving home my point. What you are overlooking is that Oracle makes their SDK available to the public and do not require a login to download it, only that you agree to their license agreement.
    – HPWD
    May 24, 2016 at 18:33

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