On Tuesday, November 17, 2020, at 1 p.m. Eastern, Houston partner Jesse Coleman and Boston partner Erik Weibust are presenting a webinar entitled “Available Remedies for Trade Secret and Restrictive Covenant Cases” for the Federal Bar Association and myLawCLE. Register for the webinar at the myLawCLE website. CLE credits are available, and an on-demand version of the webinar will be available following the live webinar. Below is a description of the program and an outline of the topics covered.
Robert Milligan—Seyfarth partner and co-chair of the Trade Secrets, Computer Fraud & Non-Competes practice group—was recently a speaker for the ABA’s “Annual Review: Key business law developments in bite-size pieces” podcast series. The podcast episode titled “Recent Developments in Employee Mobility, Restrictive Covenants and Trade Secrets” is available on the ABA website at https://www.americanbar.org/groups/business_law/resources/podcasts/to_the_extent_that/annual-review/employee-mobility/.
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.
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…
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
As the global economy falters, a fortunate few companies have seen tremendous growth as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Among the companies benefitting from the shelter-in-place orders currently in effect is Peloton Interactive, Inc. (“Peloton”), which manufactures and distributes home exercise equipment capable of streaming live and pre-recorded classes. Since Peloton’s IPO in late 2019, its shares have jumped over 50%, largely based on its outstanding second quarter results. As people have been shut-out of their gyms, they are frequently turning to alternatives, including Peloton, to stay active (and sane). In full disclosure, that includes the authors of this article and many of our colleagues.…
Continue Reading Avoid Spinning Your Wheels: Peloton as a Case Study in the Protection of Customer Goodwill
Seyfarth Synopsis: A recent case out of the Court of Appeals in Houston, Texas highlights the challenges in proving liability against a third-party competitor for knowing participation in breach of duty of loyalty/fiduciary duty, tortious interference with contract, and conspiracy when the third-party competitor participates in the solicitation of current employees. The Court’s opinion emphasizes that although an employee owes a duty of loyalty to her current employer, current employees can generally plan to compete—and communicate among themselves to do so—while still employed. The decision further illustrates the difficulty in proving a third-party competitor participated in any unlawful plans to compete, without some evidence showing the competitor had knowledge of the departing employees’ restrictive covenants and directing the wrongful acts. As such, the opinion demonstrates the importance of enforceable non-compete, non-solicit, and confidentiality agreements with key employees.
One of the worst case scenarios for a company is an entire team—including high level executives—jumping ship to a competitor, and directly competing against the former employer in the same space and market. A recent decision from the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Houston, Texas provides an interesting look into just such a situation, and it reinforces that it is difficult for a company to recoup its damages after a max exodus of employees if it hasn’t taken the necessary precautions ahead of time.…
Continue Reading A Herculean Task: Proving a Competitor’s Knowledge and Participation in an Unfair Competition Case
Continuing our annual tradition, we have compiled our top developments and headlines for 2019 & 2020 in trade secret, non-compete, and computer fraud law. Here’s what you need to know to keep abreast of the ever-changing law in this area.
1. Another Year, Another Attempt in Congress to Ban Non-Competes Nationwide
Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) introduced legislation in 2019 entitled the Workforce Mobility Act (“WMA”). The WMA seeks to ban non-compete agreements outside of the sale of a business or dissolution of a partnership.
Not only would the WMA abolish covenants not to compete nationwide, outside of the extremely narrow exceptions highlighted above, but it would also provide the Department of Labor (DOL) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) with broad enforcement power. If enacted, the legislation would empower the FTC and DOL to enforce the ban through fines on employers who either fail to notify employees that non-compete agreements are illegal or who require employees to sign covenants not to compete. Additionally, the WMA establishes a private right of action for all employees allegedly aggrieved by a violation of the WMA.
The WMA contains a carve out for parties to enter into an agreement to protect trade secrets. As currently drafted, the WMA does not abrogate the scope of protections provided by the Defend Trade Secrets Act.
Presently, there are no generally applicable federal restrictions on non-compete agreements, and enacting such a law would have to pass Constitutional muster. We expect to see continued activity at the federal legislative level to attempt to ban or limit the use of non-competes.
2. New State Legislation Regarding Restrictive Covenants
Within the last five months, the two executive arms responsible for enforcing antitrust laws—the US Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”)—held public workshops to examine the effect of non-compete clauses in employment contracts on the labor market. The DOJ held its workshop on September 23, 2019, while the FTC recently held its own at the top of the year, on January 9, 2020. The purpose of the FTC workshop was “to examine whether there is a sufficient legal basis and empirical economic support to promulgate a Commission Rule that would restrict the use of non-compete clauses in employer-employee employment contracts.”
Why the FTC now wants to regulate in the employment space is not readily apparent apart from attempting to capitalize on a low-hanging fruit populist issue concerning the overreporting of some companies allegedly using non-competes with low-wage workers.…
Continue Reading A Solution in Search of a Problem? FTC Hosts Workshop to Consider Authority to Abolish Non-Competes
Seyfarth Partner Erik Weibust 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 fiduciary …