I recently received a job offer from Amazon AWS. The pay and benefits are quite decent. I do really like the role and it would be work that interests me. The people that I have met so far in interviews are great.
What I do not like is the documents I have to sign to get started. They include stuff like this:
"ATTENTION AND EFFORT. During employment, Employee will devote Employee’s entire productive time, ability, attention, and effort to furthering Amazon’s best interests and will not (without Amazon’s prior written consent) carry on any separate professional or other gainful employment, including self-employment and contract work."
"Inventions. Employee will make prompt and full written disclosure to Employer, and hereby irrevocably assigns exclusively to Employer, all of Employee’s rights, title, and interest in and to any and all inventions, discoveries, designs, developments, concepts, techniques, procedures, algorithms, products, improvements, business plans, and trade secrets (collectively, “Inventions”) that Employee solely or jointly may conceive, develop, reduce to practice, or otherwise produce during Employee’s employment."
Then it follows up on the inventions portion by saying:
"Any provision in this Agreement requiring Employee to assign rights in Inventions does not and will not apply to any Invention for which no equipment, supplies, facilities, or trade secret information of Employer was used and that was developed entirely on Employee’s own time, unless (a) the Invention relates (i) directly to the business of Employer, or (ii) to Employer’s actual or demonstrably anticipated research or development"
Truth be told I'm really uncomfortable with the idea of having to get written permission to work on a weekend side project that makes money. I already have side projects that make money, and I have ideas for more.
Also I'm really uncomfortable with the idea of Amazon being able to claim inventions that I develop on my own time, on my own equipment, simply because they overlap with something Amazon might want to develop. Amazon is a big company, so the scope of things they might research or develop is pretty massive.
I'm interested in feedback from other current or former Amazon AWS employees: does Amazon really enforce these clauses? Does the company actually have a culture of requiring people to get written permission to hack away on weekend projects? Do they actually claim inventions that employees make on their free time?
For others who have worked for large tech companies in general are these clauses pretty standard? I've been self employed and working for startups for the past ten years so I've never seen an employer contract that was like this. All the startups I've worked at have had contracts that were much more favorable to employees personal projects and they had cultures of encouraging side projects as these are often where employees do their best experimentation and learning.
I'm seriously considering turning down the job over this if they can't work with me to change the contract (which realistically they probably won't). I'm still weighing the pros and cons because having Amazon on the resume might be nice, but also I'd probably hate a workplace environment that stifles my ability to continue to progress on my personal development projects on the side.