My employer is asking me to sign an intellectual property document

I have given my 2 weeks notice and my employer wants me to sign a legal document about intellectual property. Has this happened to anyone else? Is this typical in the industry? Can I be forced to sign this? I have yet to see the document btw.

I will not sign anything w/o a lawyer looking at it first. I appreciate your kind responses.

What he wants and what he gets are two different things. What leverage does he have? Seems this should have been accomplished prior to hiring you.


I would be surprised if he/she didn’t!
Common when an employee leaves, as they usually are off to start their own businesses, and that includes taking with them the intellectual property that was learned / amassed from that employer.
(Is that what you are doing… going to start out on your own?).
Yes, he/she can make your life miserable if anything EVER comes up and you didn’t sign.
ALWAYS have your attorney review and advise on ALL legal documents.
Good luck.


That is what I was thinking too. This was never discussed at the time of me being hired. I have no issue with him protecting himself. Just worried how it may harm my future.

Thank you. I am looking into starting my own business.

He should of had it signed as a condition of your initial employment.
Too late now.
What’s he gonna do? Refuse to pay you what he owes you?


Give me an example?


No, you cannot be forced to sign. Like Brian and others said, typically, it is signed before/at being hired.

Don’t let people scare you BUT certainly have your attorney advise you on it.


This is why this is good advice.

It may be benign, and only meant to preserve your work for his use in the future (such as inspection reports). Or it could harm you.

Employee Intellectual Property: Everything You Need to Know.


Consult an attorney before you sign…period! Whether on good terms or not with your employer, I think I’d politely say that I can’t sign anything without an attorney review and a complete list of everything he/she thinks is intellectual property. Your employer may think using a business card is an intellectual property that he gave you.

1 Like

Hell no! Tell them to FOAD! Unless you have something in your original employment agreement they are SOL!


Can’t imagine what intellectual property he might think either you or he has but my view is from that of a service provider (customer base maybe). If you developed or manufactured items of a copyrighed nature that might be different. As others have said he missed the bus on this. Should have been done as a requirment of employment not release.

What’s he going to say?


Thank you!!!

1 Like

That is the kind of thing I am worried about. Something as simple as a business card or just basic inspector verbiage. Thank you for the response.

Would any of your knowledge you gained through your employer be useful in home inspection? If not they may see you applying for work in the same field if home inspection doesn’t work out. Either way they should have thought about that when you were hired.


IMO, this all goes back to the primary reason most inspectors don’t want to risk ‘training their competition’. They usually get screwed because unless they’ve done it before, they didn’t know know they needed to protect themselves/their companies from their ex-employees! That does not mean they don’t have any rights, just that you need to protect yourself even more!

Remember, even though you cannot be ‘forced’ to sign anything, you can certainly be ‘compelled to comply’ by the courts!

You need to remove your feelings from this scenario, and act/think like a business person.


I can’t speak to this industry, but I can speak to IP. In my prior profession, I created IP(industry specific machine front-end software) that earned my company hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions. Over 22 years, it’s hard to say.

They flopped an agreement like this when I was leaving. I couldn’t use my code, or parts of my code or anything that resembled my code in any industry that was remotely related. It was insane. Because I had giving notice(about 10 months) there would be no severance, nor would I be eligible for unemployment insurance nor would anything else would be forthcoming. They had zero leverage on me, so I signed exactly nothing.

They were furious. 60 days later they got hit with Ransomware and were back begging me to rebuild the factory equipment. Now I had the leverage and squeezed. I got around 4 months pay for two 90 hour weeks(one in the US, one in Europe) and a business class flight to Europe. Oh and I drove an Audi A6. That was like $1400 euros for the week.

I drove quite a lot faster when it wasn’t raining…ah well.

My point…don’t sign anything unless someone looks at it or just tell them to pound sand. Nothing you agree to will help you. You can also change the agreement and agree to a fee, say 20k for signing.


Thank you!! Great advice!!

I can see no advantage to you signing this. As others have said, this is normally something an employer would have you sign when you were hired. This to protect His business. The “Intellectual Property” agreement is probably the Wrong document for him to want you to sign anyway, unless he is protecting “inspection software” that he developed and you have been using and wants to prevent you from adapting it for your future business. However, he could be trying to prevent you from using his agent or client list.

The Document he (as an HI company) should (have had you sign when hiring) would be be one with language preventing you from setting up shop close by or within a certain time frame after leaving the company. That would be standard in the industry…But why would you want to agree to that (sign) Now?
Contrary to what someone said: He could make your life and business legally suffer only if you Do Sign…your boss is trying to play catch-up.

Now, you may have a moral obligation to respect your mentor, That would be up to you how to proceed, but I would not sign anything that could come back to harm you legally. He has no leverage to have you sign.