Always look a gift computer in the disk drive, medical researcher learns

A federal judge ruled today a former researcher at Children's Hospital has no rights to the data on a laptop he tried to take with him when he left the hospital, because he never actually owned the device.

In a memorandum and order today, US District Court Judge Denise Casper ruled that even though Dr. Isin Cakir thought the Macbook Air was a gift from his supervisor for helping write a successful grant proposal, in fact Children's paid for the laptop and retained full rights to it and all the research data on it and had the right to sue to obtain the data, as it did in 2015.

Cakir, now at Vanderbilt University, and two colleagues are continuing to sue Children's over what they allege is employment discrimination. Cakir had argued Children's suit was in retaliation for the suit, which they filed a couple months before Children's sued him.

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      Comments

      It shouldn't matter who paid

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      It shouldn't matter who paid for the laptop. The ownership of the data should be decided by whatever laws or agreements govern the ownership of research data.

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      The hardware vs the data: Two different things

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      Whether someone gave the doctor that computer with a big old bow on it, surely the data on it were collected as an employee of the hospital and as such that data belongs to the hospital. My company owns everything I create for them.

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      Many contracts even cover

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      Many contracts even cover stuff you create at home, using your own equipment, if it "relates to the business" in some way. :-X

      (And a lot of companies will grudgingly remove that clause during employment offer negotiations, if pushed.)

      Academic research works

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      Academic research works differently than work done for a private-sector for-profit company.