Trade Secrets and Competition

The year-end holidays tend to be a time when employers and employees are either winding down for the year or making one last big push to close the year strongly.  California employers should make time this week, though, to ensure they are ready for the new laws which will take effect in California this Friday

Weintraub Tobin’s 2016 Labor and Employment Seminar and Training schedule is now available.   Click here for a copy of the schedule.L&E2015

If you have any questions on any of our seminars or would like to inquire on private, custom-tailored training, please contact:

Ramona Carrillo
400 Capitol Mall, 11th Fl.
Sacramento, CA 95814
916.558.6046
rcarrillo@weintraub.com

California’s prohibition on non-competition agreements is less than absolute.  For example, non-compete agreements may be enforced against partners or sellers of businesses.  Additionally, in SingerLewak LLP v. Andrew Gantman (2015) 241 Cal.App.4th 610, a California Appellate Court affirmed an arbitration award that would be considered by most to be a misapplication of California’s non-competition law.

When people begin to think about cool weather, hot chocolate, Thanksgiving, and this year the constant announcements about El Niño, only one thing always comes to my mind……..

Employer Handbook Season! 

Yes, the end of the year always brings a flurry of revisions to employer handbooks.  This year is no different.  Business owners, general counsel, and human resources professionals throughout California and the County always look at Q4 and ask themselves “when was the last time your employee handbook was updated?”  We are assisting many clients right now with their handbooks so that they are poised for a January 1 launch. With the constant changes in California (including the dozens of new bills just signed by the Governor), employer handbooks that are more than a year old can quickly become a huge liability.
Continue Reading The Three “H”s of Fall: Halloween, Hot Chocolate, and Handbooks

Companies and employers aroundJames-Kachmar-08_web the country seek to protect their intellectual property by, among other things, using non-compete provisions in employment agreements. Generally, these provisions are intended to prevent an employee from soliciting or doing business with a former employer’s customer/clients over a set period of time and/or in regard to a set geographical area. Under California law, and specifically Business and Professions Code section 16600, such provisions are unenforceable unless they fall within one of the statutory exceptions, i.e., primarily in connection with the sale of a business interest. For years, although California state courts would refuse to enforce such provisions under section 16600, federal courts in California sometimes applied a narrow court-created exception and allow such provisions to be enforced provided that they were narrowly tailored as to time and geographical area. In 2008, the California Supreme Court unequivocally ruled that such provisions were unenforceable under section 16600 and rejected the “narrowly restricted” exception used by federal courts. (See Edwards v. Arthur Andersen, LP, 44 Cal.4th 937 (2008).)

In response to the Edwards decision, many California companies and employers began to omit such provisions from their new employment agreements or re-write them with specific language restricting an employee from using trade secret information to unfairly compete. However, other companies and employers left their old agreements untouched and in place thinking merely that they would not enforce them should the need arise. A recent court decision, Couch v. Morgan Stanley & Co., Inc. (E.D. Cal. Aug. 7, 2015), reveals the risk an employer or company faces in failing to update their older employment agreements to remove or revise such provisions.


Continue Reading Hidden Pitfalls of Old Non-Compete Provisions