Not every business relationship works out. You can have a falling out with one of your business partners or lose a key employee to a competitor’s offer. A trusted independent contractor may turn out to be undeserving of your trust after all.
Whatever the reason, you’re relying on the non-compete agreement the other party signed to protect your business and your future.
So what’s the problem? The other party doesn’t care. They tell you that the non-compete agreement probably isn’t enforceable, anyhow, and dare you to try to sue them.
What does it take for a non-compete agreement to be valid?
Florida does recognize the utility of various restrictive covenants, and they are enforceable as long as they meet specific requirements:
- The agreement must protect a legitimate business interest. You cannot, for example, try to impose a non-compete agreement on your former partner out of anger or spite unless you need to protect certain trade secrets, confidential information, client lists or product developments.
- The agreement must be written and signed by the other party. A verbal non-compete agreement is worthless.
- The restrictions must be directly related to your type of business. For example, you may be able to restrict your ex-partner from opening another home realty company next door, but you may not be able to stop them from opening a company that caters exclusively to commercial investors.
- The restrictions must be reasonable in length and geographical reach. What’s appropriate may vary greatly based on your industry. If, for example, you deal in computer software, the value of your ex-employee’s knowledge may be diminished after just a few months.
If someone isn’t respecting their non-compete agreement, get help
When you’re stuck in a bind because of a dispute over a non-compete agreement, don’t try to handle the situation on your own. Talk it over with an attorney here in Florida to understand more about what can be done on your behalf.