Maryland law is well settled that a non-compete must be reasonable in geographic scope and duration in order to be held enforceable. However, Maryland courts will enforce a covenant not-to-compete that does not contain a geographic limitation in certain narrow and limited circumstances. The U. S. District Court for the District of Maryland stated in Intelus v. Barton and Medplus, Inc., 7 F. Supp. 2d 635 (1998) that every non-compete must be examined to determine reasonableness based on the specific facts at hand, even non-competes that fail to contain a finite geographic limitation. The Intelus court stated:
“Competition unlimited by geography can be expected where the nature of the business concerns computer software and the ability to process information. . . Because of the broad nature of the market in which Intelus operates, a restrictive covenant limited to a narrow geographic area would render the restriction meaningless.”
In determining the reasonableness of a non-compete that does not contain a geographic limitation, Maryland courts will consider the nature of the industry and the national and perhaps global nature of the competition. In Intelus, the court concluded that the restriction was reasonably related and limited to Intelus’s need to protect its good will and client base, and therefore upheld the enforceability of the non-compete.
In Hekimian Labs, a Florida federal court, interpreting Maryland law, found that where “testimony indicated that competition within the business of remote access testing is such that the whole world is its stage” and “that there are only about 20 companies that compete in this business, and they do so on a worldwide basis,” then “to confine the restrictive covenant to a specified geographical area would render the Agreement meaningless.”
The Florida Court concluded that if the agreement did contain a geographical restriction, the offending party would only need to move outside of this restricted area and the damage to the harmed party would be the same. Because of the national and international scope of the competition between the parties, the absence of a specified geographic limitation was reasonably necessary for the protection of the party attempting to enforce the non-compete, and the covenant was upheld.