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    • FRedmond
    • By FRedmond 12th Feb 18, 9:32 AM
    • 874Posts
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    Ownership of training course material
    • #1
    • 12th Feb 18, 9:32 AM
    Ownership of training course material 12th Feb 18 at 9:32 AM
    Bit of a random question that Iíve tried Googling and havenít turned up anything useful, so I thought Iíd gauge opinions on here!

    I have worked at the same company for over ten years and will shortly leave to work for someone in the same sector, but not a direct competitor.

    My current employer paid for me to go on a training course five years ago, and as part of the course I obtained an industry recognised qualification. I was also given a ring binder full of course material, that I kept on my desk at work so that I could refer to it whenever needed. I had added pages and pages of my own notes to the ring binder.

    In the last year the company took on a salesperson from outside the industry and, as they had no knowledge of the sector, my ring binder full of course material and my own notes was taken and given to the new salesperson. It was taken by a director of my employing company without my agreement when I was not in the office. The salesperson has taken the notes home.

    Before I leave I would like the ring-binder returned to me but Iím not clear where I stand. It would seem clear that my own notes belong to me and should be returned, but what about the course material? I think they should be mine too, but Iím not sure if I just think this because Iím so close to the events. Legally, who does the course material belong to? The company paid for me to do the course and they are saying that the material therefore belongs to them, but my view is that the material was given to the individual who sat the course not the business who paid for their employee to take the course.
Page 1
    • TBagpuss
    • By TBagpuss 12th Feb 18, 10:37 AM
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    • #2
    • 12th Feb 18, 10:37 AM
    • #2
    • 12th Feb 18, 10:37 AM
    They paid for it, it's theirs.
    It's no different that if they had paid for a reference book.

    Your own notes are a greyer ares - if they were created in your employers time and for the purpose of your job there is an argument that they also belong to your employer, but you would probably be on much safer ground than with the course materials, if you were to keep photocopies of your own notes. If you made the notes wholly in your own time then you might be able to argue they were your personal property.
    • LilElvis
    • By LilElvis 12th Feb 18, 10:39 AM
    • 3,485 Posts
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    • #3
    • 12th Feb 18, 10:39 AM
    • #3
    • 12th Feb 18, 10:39 AM
    So as not to stir things up why not ask the salesperson if you can borrow the binder for a day as you want to check some of your notes - then photocopy the whole thing.
    • getmore4less
    • By getmore4less 12th Feb 18, 10:42 AM
    • 31,902 Posts
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    • #4
    • 12th Feb 18, 10:42 AM
    • #4
    • 12th Feb 18, 10:42 AM
    The original binder contents probably belong to the employer

    Typically IP generated by you as part of your job is also owned by the employer.

    This could mean your notes also belong to the employer.
    • lulu650
    • By lulu650 12th Feb 18, 10:54 AM
    • 838 Posts
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    • #5
    • 12th Feb 18, 10:54 AM
    • #5
    • 12th Feb 18, 10:54 AM
    You usually wonít own the intellectual property for something you created as part of your work while you were employed by someone else.

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    • TELLIT01
    • By TELLIT01 12th Feb 18, 11:36 AM
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    • #6
    • 12th Feb 18, 11:36 AM
    • #6
    • 12th Feb 18, 11:36 AM
    So as not to stir things up why not ask the salesperson if you can borrow the binder for a day as you want to check some of your notes - then photocopy the whole thing.
    Originally posted by LilElvis
    That's probably the only way you will get any of the material. As others have said, the course material and any personal notes you produced in work time are company property.
    • steampowered
    • By steampowered 12th Feb 18, 11:46 AM
    • 2,411 Posts
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    • #7
    • 12th Feb 18, 11:46 AM
    • #7
    • 12th Feb 18, 11:46 AM
    I would say the binder belongs to the employee.

    I don't see why the fact that the employer paid for the course makes any difference. That wouldn't give the employer ownership of training materials.

    The IP in the course notes (copyright) will belong to the training provider.

    I agree that a practical solution is to ask for the folder back for a day or two to photocopy it.
    • ReadingTim
    • By ReadingTim 12th Feb 18, 11:55 AM
    • 2,554 Posts
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    • #8
    • 12th Feb 18, 11:55 AM
    • #8
    • 12th Feb 18, 11:55 AM
    Legally, the course materials remain the intellectual property of the course provider. By paying for said course, your employer purchased a license to use the materials, in this case by you. You have no entitlement to retain them after leaving that employment.

    With regard to your notes, check your contract, as it's possible that material created by you in the course of your employment becomes the property of your employer, not you, which you agreed to when you signed the contract.

    In both cases, you're on a hiding to nothing, therefore you need to be reasonable and appear to compromise if you want to get what you're after - suggest saying you need to check something, and could the new person bring in the folder, which you then copy - everyone 'borrows' policies, procedures, precedents etc from their old employer when moving jobs.

    A couple of things though: you'd hope your new employer would be keen on training, CPD etc, so may well have materials of their own / that other staff had gone on. And if they don't, what sort of outfit are they, and do you really want to work for them? Also, your notes are 5 years old. I'd be a bit worried that in that time, you don't appear to have learnt much if you're still going back to them, or that you're unaware if standards, skills etc have changed in that time. If an "industry qualification" hasn't changed in half a decade, I'd be concerned about its value.
    • FRedmond
    • By FRedmond 12th Feb 18, 1:32 PM
    • 874 Posts
    • 1,084 Thanks
    • #9
    • 12th Feb 18, 1:32 PM
    • #9
    • 12th Feb 18, 1:32 PM
    Thanks for all these helpful responses.

    The personal notes were written in my own time as part of my study for the exam so I don't agree that they become the property of the company, and I think I will ask for them back.

    In terms of the course notes themselves, I don't think the analogy with the reference book exactly works. If someone wanted to read up on Excel they can go out and buy a book. The training course material isn't something you can just go out and buy off the shelf, they are only given to someone who takes the course. Anyway, the consensus of all your quite reasonable responses on here, apart from steampowered who thinks they belong to me, is that the course material belongs to the company, so I don't think I will pursue matters.

    Finally, in answer to ReadingTim, I am moving from one part of my sector to another, to an area not actually covered by my current employer, and will therefore be working in areas that I learnt about on the course but haven't needed to think about for a while. I was hoping to revisit my notes to remind myself about certain things before I start the new role and hit the ground running. The area that I work in is mainly driven by government legislation, which in the main hasn't changed in 5 years, so the notes aren't out of date. There are other things I can do to prepare for my new role so will focus on them and forget about the course material.
    • bugslet
    • By bugslet 12th Feb 18, 1:42 PM
    • 6,095 Posts
    • 29,441 Thanks
    As an employer, my view would be that the file belongs to you and the notes you made, belong to you.

    Obviously different industries, but I'd have no issue with you copying the material from the original to keep for yourself.

    Good luck with your new job.
    • patman99
    • By patman99 12th Feb 18, 10:26 PM
    • 8,189 Posts
    • 9,644 Thanks
    As someone has already said. Borrow the folder on the premis that you need to refer to it, then photocopy every page (or use a document scanner app for your phone). Hand back the folder and take your new copy home with you.

    I do know how you feel. I used to work in the care sector as a repairman and ad to undertake loads of training modules, some of which were transferable to other employers. All the certificates were in an employee folder kept in the staff room and accessable at any time. When I left, I forgot to retrieve the folder.
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