A few years ago, I went to an aircraft manufacturer’s technical school on my employer’s dime. I took 30 pages of notes on the aircraft’s problems and fixes that were discussed. I was also given several hundred pages of technical info not available to the general public.
I could probably pull in a quick $10,000 selling my notes on the internet, assuming 500 of the 10,000+ aircraft owners go for it. Many of these fixes are not mentioned in the factory service/repair manuals, which are severely outdated and may never be updated.
I’m selling MY notes, I created them, they are MY interpretation of the classroom discussions, no factory written materials are included. However, the factory instructors were the source for most of the fixes that were discussed.
Much of this information is not flattering to the manufacturer, because it exposes that new $400,000+ aircraft were leaving the factory with a multitude of problems, some without any real solutions, a practice that I believe is continuing. They did not want these discussions made public, but I did not sign any non-disclosure agreement.
The factory filed bankruptcy after the school, and has been resurrected with new investors. I’m sure the intellectual property rights transferred to them.
My employer showed no interest in my notes or the factory written materials. They stopped selling this brand of aircraft after I returned from the school and no longer solicit these aircraft owners for business.
Question............Are my notes MY property, to sell as I please, or do they belong to the factory? Or perhaps my old employer?
I have rewritten them to be as flattering to the factory as possible, without compromising the integrity of the data.
To those who offer insightful and intelligent opinions, THANK YOU.
If selling them would make you lots of money, get a good lawyer who specializes in that field of law and see what he says.
I would consult a lawyer or someone with more experience in writing a good disclaimer to
go along with your text.
If the Instructors were using some kind of Instructor/Classroom Guide then it is quite possible
that the information divulged was at the very least outlined therein.
IMHO the amount of $ to be spent researching and consulting w/ lawyer might make your
forseen profits not really worth it.
Just some things to consider:
-I have seen plenty of technical / owners manuals that were created by individuals and quite
obviously unbeknownst to the manufacturer being sold online for items ranging from cars to
-Alot of the homebrew gunsmithing / tactical manuals / handbooks sold by certain publishers are
nothing more than re-workings of information found elsewhere.
If you were actually an employee of your employer (not an independent contractor), then the copyright laws are setup such that there is a presumption that all works created in your job (your notes) are "works made for hire", unless there is a written contract to the contrary. So, your employer owns them. A lawyer working for your employer would require that you obtain written permission (an "assignment") of the copyrights from employer to employee, which would free you to sell them to another person. It's not an issue of nondisclosure agreements or confidentiality, because it's a copyright issue. Many NDA's or employment agreements cover these things, but many don't. Employer has the edge here. I note that this is just the opposite with patents; unless there is a written employment agreement assigning the rights to the employer, then the employee would own the patent rights (assuming sole inventorship, and that employee has no other orverriding fidiciary relationship to the employer, i.e. officer or director).
I can't find a cite, but I think courts have held that the information contained in those notes is the IP of instructor, not the note taker.
Note-taking services at a few major universities have been shut down because of this.
So I am to assume that this is for aircraft and components that are not yet flying? There are MEL/CDL items you have that have never been disclosed before to the end users?
Sounds all a little far fetched to me.
But hey, if you can make $$ on it, go right ahead.
Did you sign a non disclosure agreement when you signed up for the class?
Was your previous employer under such a confidentiality agreement?
If the answer is yes to either of those, don't even bother with a lawyer, you
are out of luck.
If not, lawyer up and ask.
This info is for general aviation aircraft that are currently flying. The written technical info was from factory updates (to current issue manuals) that never got through the FAA approval process. The factory got tired of wasting time and money on the FAA, and had bancrupcy looming, so they stopped pushing the new publications through the approval process. The current manuals available to the public are seriously outdated and don't include this information.