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A golf club manufacturer surely would fire an employee who walks out of the plant at the end of the day with a club under his coat. Although the employee may have made the club on the assembly line, it belongs to the company because the company paid the employee to make it.
But what happens to an employee who walks out of an office at the end of the day with a computer program tucked in his brief case? The employee may have written the program, but it still belongs to the company because it paid the employee to write the program.
The products created by many companies in the information age are intellectual property. Computer programmers, technical writers, paralegals, designers, researchers, and other knowledge workers all create intellectual property in the course of their day-today work. Companies that pay employees to produce such intellectual property need …