I really enjoyed an article about Madison, Wisconsin based Epic Systems’s non-compete agreement and the comments of those former employees who were abiding by it. There was some scuttlebutt about whether Epic was going to extend the term from 1 to 2 years. Epic is big in the healthcare IT world and its ex-employees go on to consult for other companies on Epic software and make good money.
Based on the article it appears that most Epic employees respect the enforceability of the non-compete. I would guess that some have tried to challenge it in the past and have been unsuccessful. There is a signficant amount of time in the article devoted to Epic’s seriousness in protecting its intellectual property and the training it invests in its workers – hence the non-compete. It’s not often you see an article focusing on the merits of a non-compete. It seems like every story or article out there is about a non-compete that doesn’t make any sense. Probably because a lot of them do not – see Jimmy John’s for example.
The point is a well-written, well-thought-out, and enforced non-compete agreements can go a long way to protecting a business. Too many times I see agreements that meet none of the cited criteria. But when I am evaluating a well written agreement that I know the employer has a history of enforcing it goes a long way to informing my opinion on the enforceability of the agreement. Most employeees and prospective employers don’t want to get into litigation over a non-compete. If a business is going to use them, put the time and money necessary into preparing and if need be enforcing the agreement. Once a company develops the reputation, like Epic, of enforcing an agreement it goes a long way towards thwarting a possible breach of the agreement.
Here is a link to the article I wrote for the Texas Lawyer earlier in the year providing non-comepte reccomendations.