Clean Room vs From Memory

  • I have built some tooling for a third party that I do not have the code for (as I don't own the copyright).

    I know the algorithm (they aren't difficult, some basic loops and some other bits and pieces) and I wish to write and sell my own tooling with the ideas I learned from that job. The tooling will be very similar but it will be designed somewhat differently as I am not constrained by internal software guidelines.

    I won't be using any of the same code, however the fact is that I will be the one writing/written the code in both circumstances. Could this be a problem with copyright?

  • IANAL but you should be fine, as long as the algorithm itself isn't patented. If the algorithm is simple and useful enough, chances are other people have used it in some form, even if they did so through their own research (or simply by reading's someone's blog on the subject).

  • @The_Quiet_One I know other people have used similar designs, because I stole their ideas when building the tooling (their tooling was open source).

    It just the tree stuff I asked about on here last week. I don't think it is anything special.

  • @lucas1 Honestly, I'd be a bit worried about this. Before Microsoft opened .NET, there was always a great deal of it available on MSDN as a reference, but people working on Mono were supposed to avoid looking at it or becoming familiar, because even if you aren't directly copying the code, it can be labeled a 'derivative work'.

  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Magus It's harder to show that it is a derivative work when it's something done from memory. Maybe not impossible, but out of the budget of most plaintiffs…

  • @Magus I am considering paying for a specialists solicitor.

    I would be definitely in deep shit if I kept any code for myself. I kept code in the past but I have used it as a reference on how to do something, akin to keeping a gist in github.

    I would have to write everything again but learned how to do it on the job, so I dunno how that is any different than an apprentice brick layer learning how to lay bricks and then working for a different company.

  • @lucas1 said in Clean Room vs From Memory:

    Could this be a problem with copyright?

    I can't imagine how.

    It could be a problem depending on what contracts are in place between you and your former employer. I don't know what UK law is, but in a lot of US States (not all), non-compete clauses can be prosecuted.

  • Anyway, tread lightly and carry a big lawyer.

  • @blakeyrat

    They are different industries. Also I would be selling a tool, they are using my implementation internally.

  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @lucas1 said in Clean Room vs From Memory:

    They are different industries.

    That simplifies things hugely. You'll probably be fine. The lawyer is a good idea even so; you'll sleep better at night.

  • @lucas1 it seems unlikely that they would care on sueing, after all you aren't damaging them.

    do the suits even know about these tools there?

    but a risk is a risk

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