Confidentiality Agreements and Employee Non-Compete Agreements

One of our fundamental convictions is that intellectual property increasingly resides “in the heads” of client employees, consultants, contractors, and like personnel.  With this type of property representing increasingly predominant portions of the asset base of many clients, it is more important than ever to create and maintain clear documentation on who owns it, and effective controls on its use and dissemination.  It is equally important for new employers to make certain that incoming personnel are not subject to agreements which would be violated by contemplated work activities, greatly impairing the value of the new personnel and potentially entangling all parties concerned in conflict and litigation.  Not only are the contracting personnel vulnerable, but new employers are exposed to claims of tortious interference with contract and the like.  And then, too, competition and mobility are significant policies in the law, and unreasonable non-compete restrictions are sometimes exacted and sought to be enforced as a business strategy.

Perhaps the single most cost-effective measure intellectual property owners can take to protect themselves from unfair competition involving the misappropriation of their intellectual property is the consistent, comprehensive use of fair, properly drafted confidentiality and employee non-compete agreements.

Wyatt’s Intellectual Property Protection and Litigation Service Team members can advise when such agreements should be employed and can craft agreements that take account of a client’s specific needs and the current state of the law in the relevant jurisdiction, in order to obtain the maximum available contractual protection for the client’s intellectual property without risking invalidation or enforcement problems.  A key strength of these agreements is that they can extend legal protection to a broader scope of information than is protectable under patent and trade secret laws.

Our team litigators have significant experience in assuring that proper agreements of this type are rigorously and consistently enforced once they are in place.  We also regularly assist clients in establishing or improving procedures for “vetting” potential new employees, to make certain that hirings do not become the basis for claims by a former employer.

This is an area of the law where litigating parties commonly resort to extraordinary remedies like temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions.  These can both halt violations while awaiting trials and damage determinations, and, when improperly sought, can wreak havoc on business operations.  Our Firm’s hallmark “sense of urgency” in responding to client needs makes us well-suited to act immediately when emergency Court proceedings incept.  This is a key area where our interdisciplinary, “One-Firm” culture brings the resources of both our Intellectual Property team, and our Labor & Employment team, to bear in achieving client objectives.