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Enforcement of Non-Compete Not Dependent on Solicitation of Former Clients or Use of Confidential Information

Monday, April 12th, 2010

In TEKsystems, Inc. v. Bolton, (2010), the Maryland Federal District Court recently reinforced Maryland law on the point that the enforcement of a covenant not to compete is not dependent on whether the competing former employee solicits his former employer’s clients or uses its confidential information, but rather on whether or not the scope of the restrictive covenant is reasonable. The only factors that will determine whether the non-compete is valid are its temporal and geographical limits, the employer’s legitimate business interests, the employee’s unique and specialized skills, any undue hardship on the employee, and the public interest served by enforcing the restrictive covenant.

The non-compete found in the former employee’s employment agreement contained standard language prohibiting the former employee from engaging “in the business of recruiting or providing on a temporary or permanent basis technical service personnel, industrial personnel, or office support personnel” for a period of 18 months after termination of employment, and within a geographical limitation of a 50-mile radius of the employee’s former office. Both the period of time of 18 months and the geographical scope of 50 miles have been held as reasonable on numerous occasions by Maryland courts.
The Court also found that the employer had legitimate business interests in enforcing the covenant, the employee possessed unique and specialized skills, and the employee would not suffer undue hardship by enforcing the covenant. The enforcement of the non-compete was upheld against the former employee.

To read a comprehensive blog of all of the issues address by the Court in this case, visit the blog of the Business Law Section of the Maryland State Bar Association at

A Non-Compete Can Be Enforced Even When Lacking Geographic Limitation

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

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.