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Restrictive Covenants And Trade Secrets Litigation And Counseling

The law provides special rules for reviewing the legality of contract provisions that limit or restrict an employee’s right to work such as noncompete and nonsolicitation agreements. In today’s economy, many businesses derive their competitive edge in the market from valuable intangible assets, such as:

  • Relationships with clients, customers, contractors and employees
  • Trade secrets, and other sensitive, confidential and proprietary information

A major part of our practice involves disputes that arise when companies seek to enforce contract provisions that bar employees from competing, working for a competitor, soliciting or disclosing confidential information. These provisions are known as restrictive covenants. They are often included as part of an executive employment agreement, but they can also arise from onboarding documents signed as part of the hiring process or in employee handbooks.

These same disputes often involve claims of trade secrets misappropriation. A trade secret is simply information used in business that is kept a secret by the owner who uses it to obtain economic advantage over competitors who do not know it. It can include a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique or process. Trade secrets have long been protected under state statutes, and since 2016, they have been the subject of a powerful federal statute, the Defend Trade Secrets Act.

The attorneys at Steve Harvey Law LLC counsel and represent both employers and employees in connection with the full range of issues involving restrictive covenants and trade secrets, including:

Noncompetition Or Noncompete Agreements

Noncompete agreements are covenants that prohibit a current or former employee from engaging in a business that competes with the employer, typically limited to a defined geographic territory and specific time period. Since the Middle Ages, these covenants have been disfavored under the law and scrutinized by courts to ensure fairness, but in most states other than California, they are generally enforceable if they are supported by consideration.

Confidentiality Or Nondisclosure Agreements (NDAs)

NDAs are contracts in which an employee agrees not to disclose a company’s trade secrets and other confidential information to any noncompany personnel not entitled to have access to it. NDAs are often drafted to apply during the term of employment and in perpetuity thereafter. NDAs are also used in business negotiations over the sale or development of a business or an asset.

Nonsolicitation Agreements

Contracts in which an employee agrees in writing not to solicit an employer’s employees and customers following the employee’s separation from the company. Given the enforceability issues associated with noncompete covenants, nonsolicitation agreements are sometimes used as an alternative to traditional noncompetition contracts.

Trade Secrets Claims

Trade secrets claims are claims under state or federal statutes governing trade secrets. These statutes usually authorize injunctions as well as money damages and attorney’s fees.

Our Experience

Whether we are retained by an employer seeking to enforce a noncompete or another restrictive covenant, or by a senior manager seeking to change jobs and fend off a covenant enforcement action, our attorneys are uniquely equipped to provide the practical advice and strategic guidance our clients need in the fast-paced, high-stakes litigation that often accompanies restrictive covenant and trade secrets disputes.

We have enforced and defended scores of restrictive covenant and trade secrets claims in state and federal court, and in various alternative dispute resolution proceedings, including related claims of unfair competition and tortious interference with contracts. More than 100 of our cases have involved injunctions and temporary restraining orders.

Given our extensive experience in litigating, trying and settling restrictive covenant and trade secrets claims, we also deliver high-quality advice and counseling to employer clients seeking to draft enforceable employment contracts, and to employee clients reviewing offer letters and negotiating new employment agreements.

Contact Our Firm For A Closer Review

The secret to success in legal disputes is a strong attorney client relationship. If you are facing a legal dispute or you think you will be soon, now is the best time to contact us so that we can review your legal matter and see if we are the right lawyers for you. Contact our Philadelphia office by calling 215-907-7313 or complete our online contact form.