Los Angeles partner Robert Milligan and counsel Darren Dummit will present an online CLE webinar for Strafford on October 15, 2020 at 10 a.m. pacific for business counsel to provide guidance regarding legal concerns in negotiating termination and suspension provisions contained in commercial contracts drafted in a pre-pandemic world, as well as the considerations for

On Tuesday, October 6, 2020, Houston partner Jesse Coleman and Boston Partner Erik Weibust presented a webinar entitled “Recovering Damages for Breach of Restrictive Covenants” for Strafford. The webinar can be downloaded and viewed on demand at Strafford’s website. CLE credits are available. Below is a description of the program and an outline of the topics covered.

Description

When a current or former employee breaches restrictive covenants in an employment agreement, such as a noncompetition, non-solicitation, or nondisclosure agreement, the employer may often, depending on the jurisdiction, pursue damages against the employee as well as injunctive relief. Quantifying the damages to the business resulting from the breach of covenant can be challenging.
Continue Reading Jesse Coleman and Erik Weibust Present Webinar on “Recovering Damages for Breach of Restrictive Covenants” for Strafford

Seyfarth Partner Marcus L. Mintz was recently named as a co-chair of the Restrictive Covenants/Tortious Interference Subcommittee of the American Bar Association Litigation Section.

The Restrictive Covenants/Tortious Interference Subcommittee is part of the Business Torts & Unfair Competition Committee. The Committee and Subcommittee focus on keeping business litigators fully informed on issues and trends regarding

Decision overview

On August 7, 2020, the Fifth Circuit addressed an issue presently undecided by the Texas Supreme Court; namely, whether reformation of an overbroad non-compete restriction is appropriate, and perhaps even required, at the preliminary injunction stage or must occur as a remedy after trial upon the merits.

In reversing and remanding the contrary lower court decision that declined to reform an overboard non-compete due to an inadequate record, the Fifth Circuit held that reformation of an overly broad covenant not to compete agreement was warranted at the preliminary injunction stage. Calhoun v. Jack Doheny Companies, Inc., No. 20-20068, — F.3d —, 2020 WL 4557641 (5th Cir. Aug. 7, 2020).
Continue Reading Fifth Circuit Holds that Reformation of Texas Non-Competes Is Authorized, and Perhaps Required, at Preliminary Injunction Stage

In a strengthening of company contractual rights, the Louisiana Legislature recently expanded its state non-compete statute by permitting a corporation, partnership, or limited liability company to enter into agreements with their shareholders, partners, or members, respectively, that prevent them from becoming employees of a competing company under certain circumstances.
Continue Reading Louisiana Expands its Non-Compete Statute in Favor of Companies

Called upon by the Ninth Circuit in Ixchel Pharma, LLC v. Biogen, Inc. to answer two key questions concerning the validity of a settlement provision requiring a party’s termination of a collaboration agreement with a third-party, the California Supreme Court unanimously held:

  1. to state a claim for tortious interference with an at-will contract, a plaintiff must allege that the defendant engaged in an independently wrongful act, and
  2. in determining the validity of a competitive restriction in a business-to-business agreement under Business and Professions Code section 16600, the rule of reason applies and such restriction is not per se void.

The Court’s decision will impact how companies contracting under California law decide to set up their contracts and whether they will agree to the at-will termination of such contracts. The decision also provides some clarity for businesses that include competitive restraints with other companies in their commercial dealings, such as exclusive dealing and collaboration agreements, licenses, leases, and franchise agreements, as such restraints are not per se void under Section 16600 but subject to a rule of reason analysis.
Continue Reading California Supreme Court Clarifies Pleading Requirements for Claims of Tortious Interference with At-Will Contracts and Adopts Rule of Reason in Evaluating Competitive Restraints in Contracts Between Businesses

In a rare appellate decision on enforceability of non-disclosure agreements and a plaintiff’s burden to establish the existence of trade secrets, the First Circuit recently overturned a district court summary judgment order and trial verdict. This decision serves as an important reminder for both those who litigate trade secrets claims and those who draft restrictive covenants agreements.

Background

TLS Management and Marketing Services, LLC, a tax planning and consulting firm, sued its former employee, Ricky Rodríguez-Toledo, for alleged misappropriation of trade secrets under Puerto Rico’s misappropriation law and breach of his NDA with TLS. TLS claimed two trade secrets germane to the litigation, the “US Possession Strategy”—essentially a tax arbitrage strategy designed to help clients avoid higher mainland taxes—and “Capital Preservation Reports” or “CPRs,” client-specific reports with tax recommendations based on an analysis of applicable statutes and regulations.
Continue Reading Rare First Circuit Decision Invalidating NDA and Overturning Misappropriation Verdict Serves as a Cautionary Tale

Partner Erik Weibust will be speaking on Thursday, August 13, 2020, at 12:00 p.m. EST, on an American Bar Association webinar entitled “Non-Compete Update: Practical Guidance in Response to COVID-19.” Erik will be covering topics including “Enforcing Non-Competes During High Unemployment” and “Preparation and Pursuit of Non-Compete Litigation During Court Closures/Limited Access.” Other topics include:

As many of our blog readers will know, the enforceability of restrictive covenants often depends on which state’s law applies to the dispute. For example, California is well known for refusing to enforce employee non-competition agreements and, recently, refusing to honor forum selection clauses in agreements with California employees without the employee first receiving legal advice. In contrast, with limited exceptions, most other states will generally enforce restrictive covenants. Consequently, for employers, controlling and choosing the correct law to  apply to its restrictive covenant agreements can be critical to protection of its business interests.
Continue Reading 6th Circuit Bolsters Employer’s Right to Contract for Chosen Law

The Massachusetts Superior Court recently held in Now Business Intelligence, Inc. v. Donahue that a temporary reassignment during a business slowdown, consisting of the addition of certain non-billable duties, does not constitute a material change invalidating a non-compete agreement. The dispute centered on Now Business Intelligence, Inc.’s (“NBI”) ability to hold its former employee, Sean Donahue (“Donahue”), liable for breach of his covenant not to compete.
Continue Reading Massachusetts Superior Court Axes an Attempt to Expand the Scope of the Seminal Non-Compete Law Concerning Material Change in Employment