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Using code from your old firm

Posted: April 23rd, 2008, 12:13 pm
by arsenalboi
I wanted to know if it's ok to use code developed at your previous firm. Including your own code and coding done with a teammate.

Using code from your old firm

Posted: April 23rd, 2008, 12:37 pm
by Traden4Alpha
IANAL (especially IANAUKL), but I'm fairly sure that the legal answer is a most emphatic NO! Your former employer's position will be that they own every single shred of code that you (and, especially, your teammate) developed that bears any relationship to work even if developed in your "spare time". Coding while employed is "work for hire" which means the people that hire you retain the copyright.Now whether you get caught is another issue, but if you do, I'd bet that your present employer would probably fire you and let you personally take the legal consequences. (That's my understanding of US conditions, UK may be different)I hope that you are careful.

Using code from your old firm

Posted: April 23rd, 2008, 12:48 pm
by ppauper
QuoteOriginally posted by: Traden4AlphaI ANALso it would seemanyhoo, it's theft of intellectual property

Using code from your old firm

Posted: April 23rd, 2008, 1:15 pm
by arsenalboi
Thanks thats good to know I can't reuse my hard work again. Ok, what about trading models?

Using code from your old firm

Posted: April 23rd, 2008, 1:52 pm
by woolcotm
Surely this depends on your previous contract. Were you a developer? If not, then you were not contracted to develop code, so you might be alright to use your own work (but not that of your team-mate).

Using code from your old firm

Posted: April 23rd, 2008, 1:53 pm
by woolcotm
Surely this depends on your previous contract. Were you a developer? If not, then you were not contracted to develop code, so you might be alright to use your own work (but not that of your team-mate).

Using code from your old firm

Posted: April 23rd, 2008, 2:02 pm
by cemil
QuoteCoding while employed is "work for hire" which means the people that hire you retain the copyright.Copyright for coding? for me it is an intellectual property. So you can use your algorith in another firm.

Using code from your old firm

Posted: April 23rd, 2008, 2:06 pm
by jfuqua
You will probably find the new company will be willing to turn a blind eye towards what you develop for them---even if in your first month you 'produce' a whole library of code and the DLLs and 200 pages of documentation by some miracle. That same company will likewise demand you be strip-searched when you leave them---if not every night before going home so you don't take code or documentation from the office.

Using code from your old firm

Posted: April 23rd, 2008, 2:28 pm
by arsenalboi
No I'm not a developer. I'm a quant trader and I've developed all the models over here, and naturally when I move I would want to take them. There is nothing in my contract saying that I can't bring code in or take personal code out of the firm. But thanks for your advise. Do you not think that developers, etc are reusing code in different firms anyway? I mean if one builds a library from nothing, it would be really painful developing another one!

Using code from your old firm

Posted: April 23rd, 2008, 5:17 pm
by Y0da
What about rewriting the whole thing from scratch?You should be relatively quick to write it again, becauseyou have done it before. Noone can sue you for usingyour brain cells can they?

Using code from your old firm

Posted: April 23rd, 2008, 7:06 pm
by Cuchulainn
NOPE. You are in employment and what you make is your employers' IP. Indeed, be extremely careful.If you were an independent guy then you could make a product that is licensed to various customers. Different story. Then the IP is yours.Of course, you still have a brain.

Using code from your old firm

Posted: April 24th, 2008, 7:05 am
by muxControl
You would be in violation of Standard V of the CFA Institute Code of Ethics.

Using code from your old firm

Posted: April 24th, 2008, 8:23 am
by Anthis
QuoteOriginally posted by: CuchulainnNOPE. You are in employment and what you make is your employers' IP. Indeed, be extremely careful.If you were an independent guy then you could make a product that is licensed to various customers. Different story. Then the IP is yours.Of course, you still have a brain.Cuch, just like you i am not a lawyer, but i would like to question your IP argument. I mean within EU, math models, software, code, ways of doing business cant be patented. Thus, and subject to legalities i may ignore, probably cant be considered as IP i think. Assuming moreover, that an employee has a brain and a finite know-how set, building a model that works in his first employer and restricted from rebuilding it, even with modifications or improvements to a subsequent employer, this rationally implies that after N job moves, employee's finite know how set is depleted, and his ability to earn a living is seriously or even totally undermined.Additionally, this annihilates to a great extent the advantage of job experience for a model builder thus the ability to negotiate higher remuneration package. I would like to hear Dominic's views here as well.

Using code from your old firm

Posted: April 24th, 2008, 9:00 am
by gc
QuoteI mean within EU, math models, software, code, ways of doing business cant be patented. Thus, and subject to legalities i may ignore, probably cant be considered as IP i think. There was a milestone court case for software patents in UK a few years ago.Infringement of copyright in softwareIn short, Tradition poached from Cantor of a team of developers who created Cantor's bond futures trading system. Before moving to Trad they installed a modem on a phone line inside Cantor to be able to dial-in and get information from their old employer (if I remember correctly they were mostly interested in checking live Cantor's live prices while they were ready to trade themselves). Also, when they moved, they carried with them copy of the software. In record time they were able to open the desk in Trad backed up by a good brand new pricing system.The result of the court case was that while the individuals were found guilty for copyright infringment, the fines weren't major. Determinant factors were that the developers only used a short size of the code (the expert witness could prove about 2% matches in the code) and they used it mostly to test their new system and price and not to trade directly.The following precedents in software copyright in UK were results of the case:QuoteAn expression of thought in a human language (as, for example, an essay, a novel or a poem) differed from a program for a computer written in a programming language. There was a real risk of error in adapting principles developed in the context of literary works addressed to humans and applying them uncritically to literary works whose only purpose was to make a machine operate in a certain manner. Every part of a computer program might be essential to its performance, but it was simplistic to regard every part, however small, as a "substantial part" of the program QuoteA copyist infringed if he appropriated a part of the work upon which a substantial part of the author's skill and labour was expended. The maxim "what is worth copying is worth protecting" was open to the criticism that it proved too muchQuoteA substantial part of the author's skill and labour might reside in the plot of novel or play, and to take that plot without taking any part of the particular manner of its expression might be sufficient to amount to copyright infringement.The "architecture" of a computer program was analogous to a plot and was capable of protection if a substantial part of the programmer's skill, labour and judgment had gone into it But then the interesting part was that there wasn't enough copying so :QuoteIt was unlikely, although no impossible, that the skill and labour involved in making such a choice could ever amount to a substantial part of the copyright subsisting in the various modules (para 78.). and QuoteThe issue was whether the code that had been copied represented a substantial part of the copyright work relied on. The criterion was whether it represented a substantial part of the skill and labour expended by the writer. The substantiality of what had been taken had to be judged against the collection of modules viewed as a whole. It was not determined by whether the system would work without the code, or by the amount of use the system made of the code. So I think that even if in general people aren't allowed to export their work from a company to another, the fine that will be decided by the court is open to a number of factors, the most important of which is whether the copy amounts to a part that extended enough to carry identifying characteristics of the original system.From a pragmatical point of view, it's better to be lawful and not export old code to new working environments. But if you are going to work for a company who is highly litigious, with enough money to stand a major court case, and where the expected loss from the lawsuit is less than the expected gain to bring competitors to their knees, then it may be worth to ignore all moral codes and check if there is some informal understanding from the new company that they will be "helping" out.Am I immoral? maybe... but from my experience in the City nobody, starting from the FSA really cares about fair markets. And as a lawyer hater, I think that the only point of laws is to help criminals and restrict the good guys, so I am starting to get really annoyed about all the cheap moralism we have in the City.

Using code from your old firm

Posted: April 24th, 2008, 9:31 am
by Anthis
gc, nice contribution to the topic, but i think this case has a significant portion of industrial espionage whichi guess is not applicable in arsenalboi's situation.