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Loren, Attorney
Category: Business Law
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Experience:  30 years experience representing clients .
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I sold my business in california. I am working for the company

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I sold my business in california. I am working for the company that bought my business, but want to leave and work for another company. I did sign a non compete, but understand it is not valid here in CA. How much trouble can I get in?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  Loren replied 7 years ago.

You are correct. As a general rule non-competes are illegal in California.
Unfortunately for you, however, non-competes are lawful as against the former owner of a business by the purchaser of the business. (See Business & Professions Code § 16601)

There is also an exception for trade secrets like customer lists, etc.

I would strongly advise that you consult a local attorney who can review the relevant documents for you before taking any action which may subject you to liability.

Good luck and I hope this answers your question.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
So, can I still work in my field of work for someone else, or do I have to refrain from doing so for the next 3 years as stated in the non compete?
Expert:  Loren replied 7 years ago.

All I can say at this point is that your particular situation appears to fall outside of the general rule that renders non-competes unlawful in California.

As a general rule non-competes, to be enforceable, must be reasonable in time and geographic scope.
What is reasonable is determined by the custom and practice of a particular area for that trade or profession.

Without examining the agreement and other documents from the sale of your business, it is not possible for me to be more specific regarding your particular contract. That is why I suggest you consult a local attorney to review in full detail your non-compete to determine your exposure, if any, should you attempt to work in your field for a competitor.

Feel free to follow up if you have further questions.

Good luck.

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