Alcatel owns US employee's thoughts

What's on your mind?

A US man says he will appeal a court's decision which ruled that an idea that existed only in his mind belonged to his employer.

Evan Brown has been working on an idea to convert old computer code so that it can be run on modern machine since 1975.

When Brown mentioned the idea to his employers while he worked for DSC Communications of Plano, Texas (subsequently bought by Alcatel) DSC decided it owned the rights to Brown's insight and demanded that he revealed his idea. Brown refused and he was fired. DSC then launched legal action against him to gain possession of his thoughts.

Almost six years later and Brown has finally been told by a judge that DSC is entitled to his idea. He's also been told to stump up $332,000 in legal costs. Throughout the legal process Brown maintained that he'd never written down the idea, only solved part of it while employed by DSC and thought of some of it outside office hours.

His former employer maintained that he had signed a contract which contained a clause giving DSC ownership rights of any of his "inventions".

Brown's idea was deemed to be an "invention".

On his Web site Brown claims he's been "railroaded" and has vowed to appeal.

He also launched a scathing attack on the justice system in Texas.

The lesson from DSC/Alcatel .vs. Evan Brown? If you've got a good idea, keep it under your hat. That, or abstain from thinking altogether. ®

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