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David Stewart
David Stewart, Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 128
Experience:  Highly experienced attorney in all aspects of Business Law
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I currently work for a company that does business to

Customer Question

I currently work for a company that does business to business lead generation. I am considering starting my own company that would do the same thing and be in direct competition. It's also likely that I would at some point be taking some of theiron clients. I have NOT ever signed a non compete agreement. Does my current employer have any grounds for legal action against me if I am successful in this endeavor? And before you say it, yes I would be ending my employment with this company before moving forward.
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  David Stewart replied 1 month ago.

Hi Marie - please check to make sure you have not signed an employment agreement, confidentiality agreement, or any other agreement with your current employer and if you have confirm there is nothing in those documents speaking to your issue. Also, most employers have an Employee Handbook or similar document that you may have to sign a document stating you will comply with it. If there is one that document may also have a noncompete clause for you to consider.

If you do not have a noncompete clause in any of those documents to the extent they exist you are free to proceed with your endeavor. The one caveat I will warn you of is to also make sure you are not relying on trade secrets and confidential information such as client lists and client contacts to get your new company started. Federal and state laws protect this information on behalf of your employer. Other than that, just make sure there is not a document you forgot that you signed when you started or that there is not a noncompete provision in some other company document you have agreed to comply with and you should be fine.

Also, just so you know even if there is a noncompete in place, those are only enforceable in very rare and specific instances that from what I read in your statement would not apply to you although you should double check that if you find anything of concern. All the best, David

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Ok, I have a follow up question then. You say I can't use trade secrets or client lists, and while I will not be directly using any of their client lists, I do intend to woo some of their current clients. I assumed that would be permissible seeing as how people leave for better offers from competition all the time. Aside from that, much of their data and client lists would be easily obtainable through public info anyway. Can you give me more specifics as to what information could be deemed as "stolen" from them?
Expert:  David Stewart replied 1 month ago.

The things your employer might consider stolen trade secrets would be for example the name and direct dial of a client contact that is not readily available through public information. This type of contact information would be considered confidential to your employer for instance when the client is a huge corporation and the contact purchasing the services was only able to be obtained through marketing calls and time spent by your employer and not readily available through public searching.

My prior reply stated "client lists" and this is really too broad in this context. It is more the confidential information you know through working through your employer about the clients on the list that can be considered a trade secret. Please also keep in mind, however, that this is very subjective and if you can google search and find the information or find it through other public application you should be fine and will not even receive a claim. Other types of information to be cautuious when using would be price lists and your using those from your employer to underbid them for jobs. However, if you are a big success which I hope you are they may well want to try and stop you. I hope this helps you! David

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