Every business day, employees change jobs, companies recruit employees who work for their competitors, businesses disclose important, confidential information to their employees, salespeople cultivate relationships with their customers, and consultants complete jobs and begin others. Although managers and employees are comfortable handling the business-related issues that arise in these circumstances, they also raise as series of legal issues and questions that should be addressed.
- How can I protect myself against the disclosure and use of my trade secrets and confidential information?
- How can I protect my business when employees leave to work for a competitor?
- Should I have all or some of my employees sign non-compete agreements (also known as “restrictive employment covenants”)? What should they say?
- What rights do I have if my employees have not signed non-compete and confidentiality agreements?
- To what extent is my company’s non-compete agreement enforceable?
- If I fire an employee, can I enforce his non-compete agreement?
- Should I spend the money on legal fees to enforce my non-compete and confidentiality agreements and to protect my trade secrets, even if it means going to Court? What risks am I taking if I don’t?
- How can I protect myself when interviewing a competitor’s employee?
- Can I hire a competitor’s employee if she/he does not have a non-compete agreement?
- Can I hire a competitor’s employee if he/she does have a non-compete agreement?
- Can I be sued if I hire a competitor’s employee? How can I minimize my risk and best try to avoid litigation?
- If I hire a competitor’s employee, how can I protect myself if she has confidential information that belongs to the competitor?
- Should I sign the non-compete agreement that my new employer wants me to sign?
- Can my employer force me to sign a non-compete agreement? What if I’ve been working there a while?
- Is my non-compete agreement enforceable?
- Can my non-compete agreement be diluted or narrowed?
- What can and can’t I do if I leave my current job?
- Can I take the job that a competitor has offered me even though I have a non-compete agreement? What are the risks involved?
- Can I contact my old employer’s customers in my new job?
- Can I “moonlight,” and what can happen if I do?
Consultants and Businesses that Hire Consultants
- Does the consultant or his client own the rights to the work product that the consultant produces during a consulting engagement?
- What information that a consultant learned during a consulting engagement can be used in other jobs?
- Can a client prevent a consultant from doing similar work for another company in the same field?
- Should a client demand or a consultant sign a non-disclosure agreement? A non-compete agreement?
- Some of these questions have simple answers. Others do not, and depend heavily upon the particular circumstances involved. The best answers require both legal knowledge and experience in the field.
The Trade Secret Protection and Non-Compete Group combines experienced transactional attorneys who draft agreements, labor attorneys who counsel clients on employment issues, and litigators who have handled many contested cases in these fields. The members of the group also include transactional and litigation attorneys who represent clients in a variety of intellectual property areas. We use the group’s organization to keep up with developments in the law and business, develop a common knowledge base and share the benefits of our practical experiences in these areas, putting our litigators in touch with those who commonly draft agreements and counsel clients. Lessons learned from handling cases in the past are used to provide advice and services in the future.
Working with both businesses and individuals, we:
Provide the counseling needed to plan ahead, establish our clients’ rights, and protect their interests, including:
- analyses of the nature of an employer’s business and its employees’ duties to determine the need for non-compete agreements and confidentiality agreements, and the appropriate provisions of those agreements
- on-site training to management and employees on how to safeguard confidential information
- an identification of the warning signs of disloyal employees and a determination of the possible ramifications, remedies, rights of an employer in these situations
Negotiate and draft a wide variety of applicable agreements required to establish appropriate legal protection and to help avoid future disputes, including:
- non-compete and, non-solicitation agreements
- confidentiality agreements
- consulting agreements
- severance agreements
- invention, discoveries, “work for hire,” technology and “know how” agreements
Provide pre-litigation advice and litigation services when disputes do arise, including matters involving:
- Non-compete agreements and confidentiality agreements
- Misappropriation of trade secrets
- Employee defection and piracy
- Breach of the duty of loyalty
- Business torts
- Disparagement and defamation