Tracey S. Bernstein, Esq


A common misperception among employees is that if they created, built or compiled information, software or a product at work they are free to utilize it in the future.

This is simply not true even in the absence of a non-solicitation or non-competition restriction.  The general rule is that as an employee, you are paid to do a job and the product of your efforts belongs to your employer. Whether it is developing software code, trading algorithms or compiling names and addresses of clients and contacts, you were paid for your “work product” and therefore it belongs to the company.  When you leave, regardless of the reason, you must leave your “work product” behind either on your desk, in a file or in a hard drive.  You cannot destroy your “work product” or take it with you to utilize for the benefit of yourself or others.

Now that we have the general rule we can look at a few of the exceptions. First, any non-confidential information or personal skills you bring with you remain yours to take when you leave so be smart and do not co-mingle them.  Second, if the information can be recreated from public information you may recreate it on your own time from memory.