Do I Have to Hand Over a Website I Built?

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albowers 08-24-2012 @ 10:26 PM                          
Joined: Aug 2012
My question involves labor and employment law for the state of VA.

I have tried searching and found nothing on this so far. It could be because I do not know
the jargon that would bring up similar cases.

I built a website to help a program I work with at my job. I wasn't asked to build it, I
just did it as an asset to my work program at my own expense, on my own time, on my
personal computer, at home, and of my own initiative. I am a salaried employee leaving the
company soon. When I leave the company, do I have to hand over my code and domain name
because it was used for a company program? The company doesn't want to use it, they just
don't want me to have it. There is nothing sensitive in it, they just feel it is tied to
the company. Or, because I own the domain and the server space, is it my domain to keep?

JayChong 09-25-2012 @ 12:26 AM                          
Joined: Aug 2012
A large part of this will depend on the contract you have with the employer. Employment contracts typically have "work product" clauses in the contract which makes certain things produced by an employee company property. It would really depend on how the clause is worded. Theses clauses often assign all rights, interests and titles to the company for all work done by the employee on behalf of the company. You may say that the website wasn't built for the company, but the clause mentions that the product you created helped you manufacture or create a company asset, then the website may very well be company property.

I suspect that the reason the company wants to retain the website despite the fact they don't want to use is that 1) if the website is published, they may be concerned about any public relations problems down the road, especially if they can't control where its coming from and 2) if you go to work for one of their competitors, they may be worried that the website you created may give those competitors an edge. These are just speculation on my part, although you should certainly speak with an employment attorney if you wish to contest this. Best of luck.

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