In today’s fluid employment market, employees who learned valuable trade secrets on the job often leave to work for competitors. Texas law protects trade secret owners from misappropriation and unfair competition that could dilute the value of trade secrets. Non-compete lawyers guide trade secret owners in effective ways to prevent potential, existing, and former employees from unfair competition through misuse of trade secrets.
Based on recent case law, courts should enforce non-competition agreements that contain 1) a definite term of employment in which the employee’s position is secure unless cause for termination exists; 2) a non-disclosure provision; and 3) receipt of confidential information. Though required in the past, the employer’s promise to provide confidential information to the employee in exchange for the non-competition agreement is not as strict a requirement for enforceability as it once was. Courts are beginning to enforce non-competition agreements in which the employer does not make an explicit promise to provide confidential information to the employee. A non-competition agreement may be a provision in the employment agreement, or it may stand alone as a separate agreement.
Preventing unfair competition: Texas courts have interpreted non-competition agreements with a view toward balance: adequate protection for the employer and fairness to the employee. Non-competition agreements drafted unreasonably in favor of the employer are unenforceable. For example, courts will not enforce an agreement that is unreasonably broad geographically or extends for too long. Non-compete lawyers will tailor your non-compete agreement to protect your trade secrets within the confines of legally required fairness to the employee.
Stopping unfair competition and minimizing the damage: should a former employee jeopardize the value of your company’s trade secrets, a non-compete lawyer can assist in obtaining a temporary injunction to minimize the threat to your business. In the event a former employee compromises trade secrets by sharing them with competitors or using them to compete with the rightful owner, a non-compete lawyer can seek damages for misappropriation of trade secrets.
In addition to protecting trade secrets from unfair competition in the employment context, non-compete lawyers can help protect trade secrets in the event of the sale of a business. Non-compete agreements incident to the sale of a business increase the value of the business, and courts tend to allow broader protection for the buyer than for the employer in employment non-competition agreements.
For more information on trade secret protection, patent, trademark, copyright, trade secret, and intellectual property (IP) trial and litigation practice, please go to http://www.kk-llp.com/.
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