There are limited exceptions to California’s general prohibition of post-termination non-competition agreements. One such exception is the sale of business exception found in California Business & Professions Code § 16601. This exception allows a buyer to enforce non-compete agreements against a seller if the seller is an “owner of a business entity selling or otherwise disposing of all of his or her ownership interests in the business entity.”

In Blue Mountain Enterprises, LLC v. Owen, 74 Cal. App. 5th 537 (2022), the Court of Appeal found that section 16601 applied to a three year post-termination non-solicitation of customer provision in an employment agreement and upheld the trial court’s decision to enforce the provision against the executive/seller who entered into a joint venture. The court found that section 16601 applied as a matter of law because the defendant “dispos[ed] of all of his … ownership interest” in one transaction agreement while concurrently agreeing under an employment agreement and that both contracts, along with other contracts the parties executed, were drafted to accomplish the parties’ joint venture.  Id. at 553. The court also found that the trial court correctly found that the defendant’s letter for his new business constituted a solicitation as a matter of law because the letter went well beyond an announcement by actively encouraging customers to leave and do business with his new company. Id. at 556.
Continue Reading California Court of Appeal Enforces Non-Solicitation of Customers Provision in Joint Venture Transaction Involving Key Employee

Nowadays, it seems like non-compete legislation is being passed at a breakneck speed. We saw numerous new laws on the books in the last year, and dozens more are being considered in various states. Many citizens are in favor of tamping down on non-competes, and a fair number of practitioners (including many on the Seyfarth team!) agree that certain rules regarding restrictive covenants are reasonable and appropriate, including limitations on non-competes for low-wage workers and rules requiring some advance notice to incoming employees being asked to sign restrictive covenants. But some in the business community seem to be saying: not so fast.

Most recently, the New Hampshire legislature is debating a new bill introduced in January that, as originally drafted, would have invalidated non-competes if an employer required vaccination as a condition of employment and an employee refused to comply with the vaccine mandate. Introduced by a number of Republican representatives, this proposed law was an unsurprising reaction to the Biden administration’s vaccination push. While some in the business community weren’t happy with that proposed new law, they were willing to accept itbut are extremely unhappy with an amended and substantially broadened version of the bill that passed the House of Representatives just a few weeks ago. The amended bill would invalidate non-competes if an employer “makes any material change in the terms of employment,” perhaps a surprising move for Republican legislators, who are often pro-enforcement of restrictive covenants. This appears to be a clear nod to Massachusetts’ common law “material change” jurisprudence, a one-of-its-kind doctrine (at least for now) that requires employers to issue new agreements upon a material change in an individual’s employment—whether that be a promotion, demotion, change in compensation, change in responsibilities, or any other material change in the employee’s working conditions.
Continue Reading New Hampshire Looks to Jump on the “Material Change” Bandwagon—and Employers Are Pushing Back

On Wednesday, June 29, Robert Milligan—Seyfarth partner and co-chair of the firm’s Trade Secrets, Computer Fraud & Non-Competes group—is presenting the “Noncompetes Under New State Law Restrictions” webinar for Strafford.

The panel will discuss the latest state legislative changes and case law trends regarding non-compete agreements and other restrictive covenants in New York, California, Illinois, Washington, and other states and
Continue Reading Robert Milligan to Present Webinar on Non-Compete State Legislation for Strafford

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?

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

What You Need to Know about the Recent Cases and Developments in Trade Secrets, Restrictive Covenants, and Computer Fraud

Thursday, January 27, 2022
2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Eastern
1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Central
12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. Mountain
11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Pacific

REGISTER HERE

In the first installment of the 2022 Trade Secrets Webinar Series,
Continue Reading Upcoming Webinar! 2021 Trade Secrets & Non-Competes Year in Review

This July, several Seyfarth attorneys signed a letter in response to President Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy. On December 20, 2021, following the FTC’s and DOJ’s virtual workshop on “Making Competition Work: Promoting Competition in the Labor Markets” in early December, Seyfarth partners Dawn Mertineit, Robert Milligan, Kate Perrelli, and Erik Weibust
Continue Reading Seyfarth Partners Sign on to New Letter Urging Caution on Federal Regulation of Non-Competes

50 State Non-Compete Guide

Seyfarth’s Trade Secrets, Computer Fraud & Non-Competes practice group is pleased to provide the 2022 edition of our 50 State Desktop Reference, which surveys the most-asked questions related to restrictive covenants and trade secrets in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia.

For the company executive, in-house counsel, or HR professional, we hope this guide will provide a starting
Continue Reading Now Available! 2022 Edition of 50 State Non-Compete Desktop Reference

Suffice it to say, it’s never a good idea to deliberately violate a trial court’s order, much less do so repeatedly. That, however, is precisely what Khosrow Daneshgari did in Patriot Towing Services, LLC v. Daneshgari, et al. Notwithstanding Daneshgari’s willful contempt, the Georgia Court of Appeals recently ruled that the trial court nevertheless overstepped its authority by extending the expiration date of the parties’ non-compete agreement. See Daneshgari, et al. v. Patriot Towing Services, LLC, Georgia Court of Appeals, Case No. A21A0887, Oct. 21, 2021.
Continue Reading Georgia Court of Appeals Reiterates that Trial Courts Cannot Rely on Equity to Extend a Non-Compete’s Expiration Date