A federal court in Texas recently provided useful insights on what constitutes “solicitation” by a former employee under that employee’s restrictive covenant with his former employer, and the court provided further insights on what inferences courts will, and will not, draw in favor of a plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction based on alleged misappropriation of trade secrets.[1]

The defendant worked for the plaintiff, Sunbelt, for over twenty years, primarily as a salesperson covering institutional customers.[2] As part of his employment, the defendant signed an employment agreement that, among other things, prohibited him from “solicit[ing]” Sunbelt’s customers or competing with Sunbelt within a certain geographic area.[3] He later left to join one of Sunbelt’s competitors. Sunbelt filed suit and sought a preliminary injunction, asserting that the employed had, among other things, solicited Sunbelt’s former customers, worked for Sunbelt’s competitor within the area prohibited by the non-competition agreement, and misappropriated Sunbelt’s trade secrets.[4]
Continue Reading Federal Court Provides Insight on Meaning of “Solicitation” and Plaintiff’s Burden on Motion for Preliminary Injunction

Wednesday, April 20, 2022
12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. Eastern
11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Central
10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Mountain
9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Pacific

REGISTER HERE

In the third installment of our 2022 Trade Secrets Webinar Series, Seyfarth attorneys will discuss employee mobility and its impact on trade secrets and non-competes. Learn best practices and practical
Continue Reading Upcoming Webinar! Employee Mobility & Its Effects on Trade Secrets and Non-Competes

On March 24, 2022, Washington state Governor Inslee signed into law Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1795 (The Silenced No More Act) (“ESHB 1795”). Washington now becomes the second state (after California) to render nondisclosure and nondisparagement provisions illegal in employment agreements.
Continue Reading Governor Inslee Signs “Silenced No More Act” Prohibiting Nondisclosure and Nondisparagement Provisions In All Employment Agreements In Washington

Louisiana is not a fan of non-competes. Any employer who has employees in Louisiana is likely aware of that (or should be). Louisiana statutory code says so; case law says so; and now the Fifth Circuit has chimed in to add a little more food for thought on the subject.

In its recent unpublished decision of Rouses Enterprises, L.L.C. v. Clapp, 2022 WL 686332 (5th Cir. Mar. 8, 2022), the Fifth Circuit upheld the Eastern District of Louisiana’s decision that a non-compete was unenforceable against Rouses’ former Vice President of Center Store Merchandising, James B. Clapp II, because, when Clapp signed the non-compete agreement, he was not a Rouses employee, but merely an applicant who was later offered and accepted a job.
Continue Reading Employer Beware: When Louisiana Says “Employee”, It Means Employee

trade secrets uniquenessAs is often true in fashion, what once was old is now new again. But for famed wedding dress designer, Hayley Paige Gutman, she certainly is ruing the Second Circuit’s recent decision to revive its 1999 holding of Ticor Title Ins. Co. v. Cohen, 173 F.3d 63 (2d Cir. 1999). In JLM Couture, Inc. v. Gutman, 24 F.4th 785 (2d Cir. 2022), the Second Circuit held that JLM Couture’s non-compete was enforceable through New York’s oft-overlooked “uniqueness” exception. But the real question to me as a litigator is whether this doctrine should become part of the tool bag going forward. Upon analysis, the answer is somewhat mixed and going to be exceedingly fact dependent.
Continue Reading Is “Uniqueness” Getting a Revival?

In the second program in the 2022 Trade Secrets Webinar Series, Seyfarth partners Jesse Coleman, Dan Hart, and Caitlin Lane discussed how to identify the greatest threats to trade secrets, provided tips and best practices for protecting trade secrets abroad, and covered enforcement mechanisms and remedies internationally and in the US.

As a follow up to this webinar, our
Continue Reading Webinar Recap! Protecting Trade Secrets and Enforcing Restrictive Covenants Internationally

minnesota non-compete legislationOn February 22, 2022, the Minnesota legislature came one step closer to banning non-compete clauses under certain circumstances. On that date, the Minnesota House Labor, Industry, Veterans and Military Affairs Finance and Policy Committee passed HF999.

HF999 renders non-compete clauses in Minnesota void and unenforceable unless either of two circumstances are present: (1) upon termination, the employee earned an annual salary that is more than the median family income for a family of four in Minnesota (as determined by the most recent US Census Bureau data), or (2) the employer agrees to pay, on a pro-rata basis, fifty percent of the employee’s highest annual salary over the past two years for the duration that the employee is subject to the non-compete clause.
Continue Reading Minnesota Advances Partial Ban on Non-Compete Clauses

The ongoing saga of DC’s controversial Ban on Non-Compete Agreements Amendment Act of 2020 (the “Act”) logged another chapter last week when the DC Council passed a further amendment delaying the effective date of the Act from April 1, 2022, until October 1, 2022. The Act, which was originally passed in December 2020, would prohibit employers from utilizing non-compete agreements, a statutory ban which has been adopted in certain other states, but would also prohibit employers from utilizing anti-moonlighting provisions or other “duty of loyalty” policies for DC employees. This latter prohibition would be a first-of-its-kind ban, and would prohibit employer policies which are generally viewed as both reasonable and non-controversial, even in states that have taken a negative view toward post-employment restrictive covenants.
Continue Reading The Effective Date of DC’s Non-Compete Ban Delayed Yet Again

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) recently announced the indictment by a grand jury charging four owners/managers of home health care agencies in Maine with participating in a conspiracy to suppress wages and restrict the job mobility of personal support specialist (PSS) workers in violation of Section 1 of the federal Sherman Act. According to the indictment, the owners/managers agreed to fix the rates paid to these workers and also agreed not to hire each other’s workers. The DOJ warned in a press release that “[t]his indictment is the first in this ongoing investigation into wage fixing and worker allocation schemes in the PSS industry,” and part of a larger “ongoing federal antitrust investigation into wage fixing and worker allocation in the home health care industry.”
Continue Reading Alleged “No-Poach” Agreement in Health Care Industry Results in Another Criminal Antitrust Prosecution

restricive-covenenat-legislation-trendsOver the past 10–15 years, we have seen an explosion of legislative activity related to restrictive covenants. This activity is happening not only in state legislatures but on the federal level as well. While each proposal is different, we’ve certainly seen trends emerge, including required notice provisions, fee shifting, and choice of law and venue requirements.

One of the most prevalent trends is the move towards banning non-competes (and sometimes, other restrictive covenants) for so-called “low-wage workers.” To date, 10 states have implemented a low-wage ban of sorts: Illinois, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, Nevada, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington.[1]
Continue Reading More States Eye Low-Wage Non-Compete Bans