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Lawdoctor, Attorney
Category: Business Law
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Experience:  I have handled numerous business law cases during my career
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im selling a company under delaware law. buyer says they want

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i'm selling a company under delaware law. buyer says they want me to sign a noncompete for "the maximum allowable period". i dont know how long this is.

i know for employees 2 years is considered reasonable; but sellers can sign up for longer periods.

so my question is, how long is the "maximum allowable period"? 3 years? 5? 7?


Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  Lawdoctor replied 6 years ago.

Dear JA Customer:

Thank you for allowing me to assist you with your question.

Your question is very important to me, but please remember that I can only respond to the information you provide and I do not know your entire situation. My response is limited to what you have written to me and the answer may change with additional facts.

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You are correct that most courts will not enforce a non compete for employees past 2 years unless there are trade secrets involved. The accepted norm for sellers is 5 years, however I have seen them up to 20 years to run with a Patent. So, if you have the sell of a patent with the business, then 20 years can be reasonable.


For purposes of Trade name, Mark or branding, then pre 1989 trademarks are 20 years, but renewable and after 1989 are 10 years with renewals.


Again, the average is 5 years.


I wish you the best.


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