Filing a court action against you is easy. Winning would be the tough part. Talk with a local attorney if you are concerned.
The above is not intended to be legal advice, but may be used for general information. Please contact an attorney for specific help tailored to your needs. www.figgardenlaw.com
Yes indeed they have grounds to so you if you use their materials that they authored. And, all the materials you created were authored by the company not you under the definition of work for hire in 17 USC 101. It is if they wrote them not you for all practical legal purposes.
It is likely that if you did not sign any noncompete, you can compete but you cannot compete using their copyrighted materials. You need to come up with completely new forms and paperwork if you want to be sure you are not going to get sued. You also need to come up with a new and distinctive trademark so that you can protect your reputation and establish a unique identity that would be protectable in the long run. The last thing you need right now is legal problems as you start up.
I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.
Mr. Burdick is correct. Your employer paid you to write manuals, etc... for it. The manuals are their property. Seek legal counsel - they may not win the lawsuit but it will cost everyone an awful lot of time, money and aggravation. Better to put a lid on it legally, with documents this time. Good luck.
Q: "I am considering opening my own company now. Do they have anything to stand on in order to sue me?"
R: The answer depends on what kind of new business you open, how you go about starting that business, what you take with you from your former employer, and how you advertise your new business.
As my colleagues note, the "the paperwork and forms" that you created while employed are the property of your former employer. So don't take copies with you. As for the other issues, you need to speak with an employment attorney licensed to practice in Ohio. Good luck.
The above response is general information ONLY and is not legal advice, does not form an attorney-client relationship, and should NOT be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. I am not your attorney. You should seek the advice of competent counsel before taking any action related to your inquiry.