What distinguishes those companies that are successful in enforcing their non-compete agreements from those that are not? Generally speaking, just three factors: good agreements, evidence of violations, and swift action to enforce.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently considered whether a travel agency’s noncompete agreement with its employee was enforceable under Texas law. It concluded that because the agreement did not have geographic limits, was not limited to the travel agency’s customers with whom the employee actually worked during her employment, and included entire travel agency industry, the non-compete was unenforceable.
While a non-solicitation clause that prohibits a sales employee from soliciting all company customers may sometimes be justified, most of the time it is much more reasonable to limit the non-solicitation restraint only to the customers and prospective customers with whom the sales employee directly interacted rather than every customer in the company’s database.
Employees owe a duty of loyalty to their employer and may not: (1) appropriate company trade secrets; (2) solicit away the employer’s customers while working for the employer; (3) solicit the departure of other employees while still working for the employer; (4) carry away confidential information.
What a lot of companies do not realize, however, is that if they wait too long to ask for an injunction after finding out about the employee’s competitive activities, a court may deny their request simply because they waited too long
The business world is littered with the carcasses of companies which, after they shared their confidential information and trade secrets with a non-competitor, such as their client, supplier, or vendor, were undercut by that party, who all of a sudden realized that they could profit from the information by cutting out the middle-man.