I bit of background: When I was working in my previous company I came up with an idea to extract all some generic functionality from the different projects and create open source library (MIT) from them - the source code was mainly implemented by me and my former colleague for the company. The library itself was build and maintained by me and it is released under the name of my former employer.

Now I'm not part of the company anymore and I have a lot of new things to add to that library, as well as the better infrastructure (automatic builds and deployment) -- now, mu former employer does not care about the repo nor open source (that was one of reasons I quit) and I still have access, so I can quietly push the code to the repo and release it... however, as they don't care about the open source community I was more wondering about forking it, rebranding it and release it under my name...

I know, that MIT license allows that if you link the authors (related Merge, rebrand, relicense projects ), however I'm not exactly sure whether it is not a "dick move" from me.

What would you do if you were at my place? Keep updating the repo and releasing it under former employer name, or forking it and rebranding it?

EDIT: as pointed out, this question can be rephrased to: What are the cultural pros and cons of each approach?

  • Is the account you use to access/update the repo your personal account or is it a "company account" that identifies you as an employer of the company owning the repo? Mar 9, 2020 at 12:22
  • The Github repo is company's <company>/<repo>, however I always edited the code/repo with my personal account.
    – Lukas F
    Mar 9, 2020 at 13:09

1 Answer 1


Better fork the repository (it is under an open source license, right?) and hack away at your repository. Working on "company" repo but not being part of "company" could get you in trouble (e.g. if management changes to one even less open-source friendly). Much worse if it isn't open to the public!

  • Thank you! It is under MIT license, so I guess that I can do anything if I link the original authors (company and me?, copyright notice is on company so I think company...) back. Now, the fork is pretty obvious, but what about rebranding (change packages from <company> to <me>. Is that all right, or is this "dick move"?
    – Lukas F
    Mar 10, 2020 at 8:34
  • 1
    @LukasF, if you fork a repository with the expectation/intention that you will be maintaining a "competitor product", then it is highly recommended to rebrand your fork to avoid confusing your users and to avoid potential trademark issues. If that rebranding extends to a library API depends on if the products are supposed to be drop-in replacements. Mar 10, 2020 at 11:45

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