Sign in to follow this  
CDProp

Non-competes in the game industry.

Recommended Posts

For those of you who work in the game industry, did you have to sign a non-compete contract? If so, what was the scope of it? Did it have any time or geographical limits? I had to sign one of these bad boys recently. I'm curious about how common they are in the game industry. Edit: as far as scope, mine forbids me from working at any other game developer in my state for at least 1 year following the termination of my employment, whether I quit or get fired or whatever.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
These are fairly common in my country: you agree not to work for a competitor for a year anywhere in the country, and in return the company pays you a fraction of your previous salary for that same duration.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I thought that existed for all companies? I've signed ones from a software company to a supermarket warehouse job (in fact one guy got fired because he was pulling extra shifts at a competitors warehouse). I always thought it was a standard clause in every contract.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Wow, a supermarket warehouse? Weird. This is the first one I've had to sign. Then again, this is the first actual employment contract I've signed. With other jobs it's usually just "read the employee handbook, blah blah blah."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I didn't have to sign anything saying that I couldn't work for a competitor for any length of time if I decide to leave.

I DID have to sign a contract saying that I wouldn't attempt to recruit employees of my current company for a year after leaving.

Not being able to work for another company if you quit? That sounds pretty terrible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I don't work in the game industry, but I do software development. I didn't sign a non-compete contract when I was hired because it was a startup company and hadn't thought of those things yet. Now that the company is growing and the bureaucracy is kicking in, we were all asked to sign a non-compete contract but my manager vetoed it because it was way too restrictive. I think the way it was worded, it would have meant that I couldn't work anywhere in the software industry for years after quitting.

As far as I know, non-compete clauses in your contract are fairly common, but range greatly in how restrictive they are. Always read your employment contract before signing it :)

[Edited by - DigitalShadow on July 27, 2008 2:54:44 AM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by dashurc
Not being able to work for another company if you quit? That sounds pretty terrible.


Depends on the exact terms.

One of my contracts specified that I would be paid half of my former salary monthly for another year, and that I would still be paid that even if I worked for another company (as long as that company wasn't a competitor of my former employer). The employer is free to decide whether the clause is enforced, when the contract is broken: either I'm paid for a full year and can't compete, or I'm not paid and I can compete.

Another of my contracts specified that I would be paid my full salary, and still work for a non-competing company, but the employer could stop the procedure every three months if he decided I could work for a competitor or he couldn't afford preventing me from it.

In the end, unless you have acquired skills that are very useful to a competitor, the employer will not bother paying and thus the non-compete agreement would just dissolve. This, of course, is all under french law.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I've only seen contracts in Australia with clauses that said I couldn't compete at the same time as my employment with the company (i.e. I couldn't moonlight in the same field in direct competition). I've never seen any contracts with a clause restricting my employment after I leave the company.

I certainly wouldn't sign a contract with any conditions that stipulate that I can't work in the same field for any time after my employment has ended. I'm not even sure if that's legal in Australia.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Trapper Zoid
I've only seen contracts in Australia with clauses that said I couldn't compete at the same time as my employment with the company (i.e. I couldn't moonlight in the same field in direct competition). I've never seen any contracts with a clause restricting my employment after I leave the company.

I certainly wouldn't sign a contract with any conditions that stipulate that I can't work in the same field for any time after my employment has ended. I'm not even sure if that's legal in Australia.


Ditto. It seems a rather alien concept in Melbourne where people keep switching from company to company (seeing as how we're all located within 15 minutes of each other, yes 90% of the Melbourne-based industry, I am not making this up). Our boss continually rings up people at another company who used to work for us to ask questions about hardware, etc, in their field of expertise, and other companies ask favours of us here. It seems rather communal than competitive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mine is slightly different, it states I can't work for a company we have direct contact with (publisher etc) for a year after leaving, presumably to prevent poaching.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So just to get this straight, once you leave you are not allowed to do a similar job for 1 year, and you get paid a fraction of what you previously earned? To me, this doesnt seem such a good deal, and is another reason why I think I will avoid game companies in my first few programming jobs after graduation.

I am interested in exploring the different ways around it.

1) Dont tell them and risk being sued.
2) Move states.
3) Move country.

Any more out there?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by _goat
Quote:
Original post by Trapper Zoid
I've only seen contracts in Australia with clauses that said I couldn't compete at the same time as my employment with the company (i.e. I couldn't moonlight in the same field in direct competition). I've never seen any contracts with a clause restricting my employment after I leave the company.

I certainly wouldn't sign a contract with any conditions that stipulate that I can't work in the same field for any time after my employment has ended. I'm not even sure if that's legal in Australia.


Ditto. It seems a rather alien concept in Melbourne where people keep switching from company to company (seeing as how we're all located within 15 minutes of each other, yes 90% of the Melbourne-based industry, I am not making this up). Our boss continually rings up people at another company who used to work for us to ask questions about hardware, etc, in their field of expertise, and other companies ask favours of us here. It seems rather communal than competitive.


When I worked in McDonalds in Banbury, Oxfordshire, we would regularly share info with the Burger king store down the road. Once, we transferred a box of sausage meat when they ran out. At Christmas time there were supply issues thanks to a depot being covered in oil after the refinery next door burned down (famous event in the UK) and we used burger king napkins and straws.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by speciesUnknown
So just to get this straight, once you leave you are not allowed to do a similar job for 1 year, and you get paid a fraction of what you previously earned?


I'm not aware of any games company in the UK that has that in their contract for graduates, although to be fair it's not like I know people at all of them so there is a chance that some might I guess but I think you're fine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
i know quite a few people in games places here who've went from one job to the exact same job in another company less than 30 miles away within a week

all the companies round my area seem to be a bit incestuous the way the employees end up working for each one at least once

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I had to sign a two year non-compete when I was hired, but it isn't that big of a deal. We've had multiple people (in particular programmers) go on to work at other companies and it hasn't been a big deal. The only time things would get sticky is if so I started my own company and tried to recruit some of my coworkers or I went to another company that does DS or Wii development and took some of our tools or game engine with me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This is my response from another thread dealing with the same topic.

At my company freelancing (or moonlighting) is completely allowed as long as these three basic criteria are being met at all times:

1) The game is not a direct competitor. For example, if you're making a FPS and your company only deals with sports games.

2) No company resources are being used at all. Everything you're creating is at home on your own equipment.

3) You're meeting all of your job requirements. In other words, you're not spending more time on your own stuff while your job-related stuff suffers or is ignored.

As many have suggested though- it really depends on your company and the contract you signed. To follow up on what Zipster said about amending the list, some companies allow this to updated throughout your employment. My company understands that you may continue to free lance and the list could become out of date quickly.

Thanks,

Nathan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by speciesUnknown
So just to get this straight, once you leave you are not allowed to do a similar job for 1 year, and you get paid a fraction of what you previously earned? To me, this doesnt seem such a good deal, and is another reason why I think I will avoid game companies in my first few programming jobs after graduation.

I am interested in exploring the different ways around it.

1) Dont tell them and risk being sued.
2) Move states.
3) Move country.

Any more out there?


4) an express written waiver from the company.

In the event of termination, if you get a job offer from a non-competing game company, you may want to get an express written waiver of the non-compete clause from your previous company.

I would never, ever recommend simply "not telling them"-- apart from subjecting you to a breach of contract claim, it could seriously damage your reputation with the company you're trying to work for.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I've not had such a clause in any contract, but I know it's not unheard of in some industries in the UK. However I think companies are on shaky ground if they try to enforce a clause which restricts your ability to earn, unless they pay you - in the UK this is known as Garden Leave.
Personally, I wouldn't mind as long as I knew exactly what the would consider competition, if they agreed to pay me even if I took a job at a non-competing company. Being paid not to work is not something I'd have a problem with!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
These have become increasingly common as companies increasingly screw their employees inviting them to leave. Perhaps that's just my cynicism talking about a coincidence...

Anyways, I've seen ones that were so vague that using a computer after leaving the company would be considered in violation. I've seen them ranging from 3 months to 3 years. Most are getting better/more standard as the legalese settles upon something that isn't too onerous (I turned down a job after 12 months unemployment because the non-compete was too restrictive and I was purposefully looking to job-hop).

And at least in the US, you should check about their legality. There is specific case law in certain states forbidding contracts that specifically restrict your ability to be gainfully employed. Other states have broad anti-slavery laws which have been used to combat these clauses.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
My previous and current contracts (in Sydney, Aus) both had/have 6-month non-compete clauses.

No-one pays attention to them though, and I've never seen them enforced. I'm not even sure if they are legally enforceable after your employment has been terminated...

I know one guy who quit recently to start his own company, and the CEO just threatened him to not try to poach any of our staff for at least a year (or they would try to enforce the clauses).

Quote:
Original post by ToohrVyk
... in return the company pays you a fraction of your previous salary for that same duration.
Wow, I've never heard of people being paid during the non-compete duration. That would make it slightly more palatable, I suppose.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Hodgman
No-one pays attention to them though, and I've never seen them enforced. I'm not even sure if they are legally enforceable after your employment has been terminated...

I know one guy who quit recently to start his own company, and the CEO just threatened him to not try to poach any of our staff for at least a year (or they would try to enforce the clauses).

That is the difficulty of any contract. In order to enforce it, you must be willing to go through the courts.

For some contract disputes it can be done through small claims courts. Those are fairly inexpensive, costing only a very small filing fee --- but consume several days of work.

Other contract disputes must go through a very long, very expensive process.

Generally it isn't worth the cost and effort to enforce contracts. Even if an infringement takes place, there isn't enough value involved. It is rare for former employees to subvert major contracts or steal high-end customers, significantly abuse contact information, significantly financially harm the company they left, generate a windfall based on corporate information after leaving, or otherwise become a good target for a lawsuit. However, you can be certain that if it does become cost effective, a lawsuit will soon follow.
Quote:
Original post by Hodgman
Quote:
Original post by ToohrVyk
... in return the company pays you a fraction of your previous salary for that same duration.
Wow, I've never heard of people being paid during the non-compete duration. That would make it slightly more palatable, I suppose.
If the non-compete would prevent you from finding work in the field then this is a general concession the employers will make. This kind of compensation is very common in other career fields, where a non-compete agreement equates to not working.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this