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IBM To Kernel Maintainer: "You Are An IBM Employee 100% Of The Time"

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  • I just came to say, since no one in over a 100 responses saw it fit to say it.. on behalf of IBM:


    Originally posted by phoronix View Post
    Phoronix: IBM To Kernel Maintainer: "You Are An IBM Employee 100% Of The Time"

    It's fairly common that many longtime Linux kernel developers use their personal email addresses for signing off on kernel patches or dealing with other patch work, especially when they are engaging with kernel development in their personal time too and occasionally jumping between employers over time while still sticking to interacting with the upstream kernel community, etc. There are also understandably some companies that mandate the use of their corporate email addresses for their official work/patches while now IBM seems to be taking things one step to the extreme...


    • Originally posted by User42 View Post

      Have a look at you contract though. It is common practice to have such a clause in the EU. But that's a way to prevent employees from becoming competitors by developing business-related stuff while employed and bring all that with you to your start-up (or competing company). It's also, and much more simply, a way to simplify intellectual property management in the company: any patent for instance will at least mention the company as beneficiary and any code you write for your job is owned by your company so you can't claim it as yours afterwards or restrict the company's use of it through licensing, etc. So pretty much every contract has them.

      It's just that some of them extends it to any time and not just work time. Part of it is purely for protection: they don't want that because you wrote some part of some important code off-hours that you claim licensing fees because you were not paid for it.

      But basically, anything beyond that, in the EU I think (France, Spain and the UK for sure) cannot be legally enforced. So no, if you start a company while still employed, on your free time, your employer can't claim anything from it. They can still fire you, don't get me wrong but they have no rights to what you created on the side.

      At least in France, Spain and in the UK, there is no case in (labour) court if no harm is done to anybody/anything. So if what you do on your free time (or employed time for that matter) does not provably hurt your employer, the absolute worse that could happen is you getting fired. Same thing applies to non-compete clause and similar.

      Of course if your new business is in direct competition with your former employer, things could get bad depending on the context.
      I am not allowed to compete against my own company that is true, but thing is (similary to NDA) too general terms often invalidate such clauses, and type of work (business software, mostly server sided) has nothing to do with stuff I do privatly. Heck I know people who officially advertised via company channels own small works (like android game) and no one made a fuss about contract terms. I would have to compete in same sector and no one can compete pretty much solo.

      In general yes, you can have clauses to not compete against company, but there is no clauses that can say everything you do is not yours, as well companies here more fight against each other to prove i am nicer place to work in, so they don't put really absurd terms in contract.
      Last edited by piotrj3; 21 April 2021, 06:32 PM.


      • Originally posted by coder View Post
        Nowhere is perfect. It has plenty of good points, though. It's probably the only place I'd want to live other than New Zealand, Canada, or certain countries in Northern Europe.

        Not to get political, but not everything I hear about current events in Poland (not to mention some of your southern neighbors) makes it sound like somewhere I'd want to live.
        I do live in Poland and current events really want me to move somewhere else. But like piotrj3 said, also in my case that somewhere else would definitely not be the US. This contact is modern times slavery.


        • Ladies and gentlement. It seems to be a misunderstanding. According to an IBM-er there is no such policy:


          • Originally posted by evil_core
            Yup, it's becoming more and more leftist with socialism ideology,
            Not exactly the current events I had in mind.

            And stay the F out of our politics, thank you. I didn't get into any specifics about yours. You are badly misinformed.
            Last edited by coder; 26 April 2021, 11:33 PM.


            • Originally posted by void.ray View Post
              Ladies and gentlement. It seems to be a misunderstanding. According to an IBM-er there is no such policy:
              IBM's response was already covered here:

              And it only supports what I think was really going on, there. I won't repeat what I've written in many posts, except to say that it's not about the email address.


              • I don't have any information for sure but one possibility is that this guy wanted to make certain changes to the code but his bosses (or the people who approve these things and green-light them to be pushed forward into the kernel) didn't like the changes. So he then decided that he would go home, make the changes at home on his own time and submit them using his personal email address. Which of course made the managers who had said no to the changes previously mad that he had gone against their views.


                • Originally posted by jonwil View Post
                  one possibility is that this guy wanted to make certain changes to the code
                  This is my best guess, but it's similarly plausible that he wanted to implement some feature without restrictions or limitations desired by his employer. Maybe something that tied into their product strategy.

                  It could be more petty, as well. Programmers frequently differ on matters of both design and implementation details. So, it's also conceivable there was some less consequential dispute between team members, his manager sided against him, and he tried to circumvent that decision by proceeding "on personal time".

                  I think the only thing we can pretty much say for certain is that it wasn't simply about an email address.