Monthly Archives: May 2012

Noncompete Cases Sometimes Go to Trial

A plaintiff employer who files a lawsuit to enforce a noncompete often will seek a “preliminary injunction.” This is an order from the court at the outset of the case stating that the defendant employee cannot work for the competing employer while the litigation is pending. A typical reason a plaintiff asks for a preliminary injunction is that the employee’s presence at the competitor will cause “irreparable” harm to the plaintiff: the employee will disclose the plaintiff’s confidential information to the competitor. … More

Defendant Asks Court to Make Plaintiff Pay His Attorney’s Fees in Trade Secret Case

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a law firm that was sued by two former employees of the firm’s former client for filing a trade-secret lawsuit against them, allegedly without having any good-faith reason to do so. Last Monday, a former employee similarly asked the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in a different case to force his former employer to pay his attorney’s fees spent defending himself against a lawsuit brought by his former employer for trade-secret theft.… More

Another MA Noncompete Decision Addresses the “Material Change” Defense

Yet another Massachusetts Superior Court judge has issued a decision addressing whether a change in an employee’s job precluded enforcement of a previously-signed noncompete. (See here and here for previous discussions of this issue.) In an order issued last March (but only recently made public by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly (login required), Superior Court Judge E. Susan Garsh rejected the “material change” arguments made by the defendant sales employees and issued a preliminary injunction enforcing their non-competition restrictions. The judge’s order,… More

Can a Judge in a Divorce Proceeding Order a Spouse Not to Compete with the Other Spouse?

The answer, at least in Massachusetts, is yes. In Cesar v. Sundelin, the Massachusetts Appeals Court recently ruled that, in dividing a marital estate that includes a family business, a judge of the Probate and Family Court has the authority to enjoin the party that no longer will have any ownership in the business from operating a competing business. The Appeals Court reasoned that a business’s “good will” is part of the martial property subject to equitable distribution. … More

Hampden Superior Court Refuses to Enforce Non-Competition Agreement Because Asset-Purchase Agreement Breached

When a plaintiff tries to enforce a non-competition agreement, sometimes the defendant will argue that the non-compete should not be enforced because the plaintiff has breached another agreement between the parties. If true, this argument will often work to defeat a request for “equitable relief”—a plaintiff’s request for a preliminary injunction preventing the defendant from working for a competitor, for example—because “he who seeks equity must do equity.”

Ultimately,… More

Executives (and One Law Firm) Allegedly Behaving Badly

A number of cases involving former executives have received national attention recently and serve as a good reminder that trade-secret, non-solicitation, and non-competition controversies can arise at the highest level of a company. Another recent case also serves as a reminder that trade-secret claims should be filed only when there is a good-faith basis to do so. Consider the following:

  • In In re: High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation,…
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