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Will your noncompete agreement hold up in a California court?

How is your company’s noncompete agreement? Is it airtight? Or is it overly broad and likely to get tossed out of civil court if challenged?

To better understand the situation, let’s address three aspects of covenants not to compete.

Prohibit employees from competing within certain parameters

Noncompetes can state that workers for a company that made gizmos cannot use their former employers’ knowledge, training and trade secrets to open their own gizmo factory. Noncompete agreements can also specify they may also not go to work for your biggest gizmo competitor. So, your noncompete could contain language specifying their not using “gizmo” in any company name or not working for any gizmo-makers within 50 miles for the three years following the last day worked for your gizmo company.

However, it would be unreasonable to say that your former worker couldn’t work for or open their own gizmo company up in Montana for the next 30 years.

Can’t poach your workers, clients or suppliers

Your noncompete agreement could prohibit fired workers or those who voluntarily quit from taking supplier and client lists for their own business interests. They can also be forbidden from hiring their former coworkers, at least for a reasonable period.

Can’t take confidential information contained in non-disclosures (and otherwise)

Work product, secret formulas, marketing strategies and additional information considered proprietary to a company’s brand is off-limits – likely forever.

Make it strong – but not unfair

If a noncompete agreement in an employment contract is overly broad, too vague or otherwise unfair to the former worker, it can get tossed out of court. Working together with legal counsel can clarify the breadth and scope of your noncompete agreement so that it best protects the interests of you and your company.