In our modern economy, business advantages are often created through the accumulation of information that is valuable because competitors do not know it. For example, knowing the ordering patterns of a large customer can help a business carefully plan and target its marketing efforts; knowing the rates various customers are willing to pay for services helps a business bid effectively for jobs; and knowing who the relevant decision makers at a potential customer really are helps a business develop the relationships that really matter and turn into business. Also, much of what a business does in planning marketing efforts, in negotiating pricing with its supplies, in structuring its own employees’ compensation, and in developing new product improvements or lines is most valuable when it is kept undisclosed from competitors. Finally, the personal relationships a business’s employees establish with customers and suppliers create goodwill and competitive advantages for the company. Each of these advantages can cost substantial amounts to develop and deserve as much legal protection as is available.

Though the law offers multiple alternatives to protecting such business advantages, a common strategy employed in our economy is requiring business partners, officers, owners, employees and even independent contractors to sign non-compete agreements. Normally binding the signing party to not compete against the business in a particular region, product line or customer base, and for a designated period of time, the law both respects parties’ rights to enter and enforce such agreements, but also places definite limitations on them. Structured correctly, these agreements can be highly effective at ensuring employee loyalty and avoiding negative business consequences that competition by those with intimate knowledge of your business can cause. There are many restrictions on enforcement of such agreements, however, because the law does not want to unduly restrict individuals from moving among employers or using the work skills and knowledge they have developed. For example, non-compete provisions are enforceable if they meet certain prerequisites. They must generally be reasonable, and appropriately limited in scope, geography and time. This means that in every case the outcome will turn on detailed analysis of important facts and of the language used in the non-competition agreement.

There are also many variations on the standard non-complete to which different legal standards may apply. Thus, if the agreement is a more narrow agreement to not solicit from a specified customer base, or to avoid using particular corporate information to compete for a specified time period, the enforceability of the agreement may be assessed differently than that of a broader agreement not to compete. Thus, it is critical that business or individuals involved in non-compete disputes access experienced counsel who handle such matters regularly and can quickly and accurately assess the enforceability of their agreements and plan the best approaches to either enforcing them or avoiding their enforcement, depending on the client’s objectives. Our attorneys have just that type of real-world experience.

From enforcement of non-competes in the competitive stockbroker world to enforcement of similar agreements involving medical professionals, key sales personnel and engineering staff, our attorneys have fought the fights needed to successfully address a wide variety of non-compete disputes. We are happy to bring our hallmark proactive, creative and careful approach to your non-compete problems.

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