Noncompetition Agreements and Trade Secrets


One of the challenges facing companies today is how to protect competitive business interests and preserve confidential business information. The challenge is particularly acute in knowledge-driven or relationship-driven industries where employee turnover is high or where the risk of loss of competitive advantage is great. We help companies protect their valuable confidential information and trade secrets through litigation-tested agreements and policies, proactive counseling, and training. We have a record of court victories for our clients. When required, we prosecute  claims to protect confidential information and trade secrets, including claims for breach of contract, misappropriation of trade secrets, tortious interference, conversion, and other contract-based, statutory, and common law claims. We routinely help clients across a range of industries, such as manufacturing, publishing, marketing, transportation, healthcare, information technology, insurance, finance, and more.  

Our Services 

We provide a full range of services related to noncompetition agreements and trade secrets law, such as: 

  • Drafting and negotiating noncompetition agreements and other restrictive covenants for new employees, executives, and as part of separation agreements
  • Identifying an organization’s competitive business interests and tailoring a program for protection 
  • Determining what is, and what is not, a "trade secret" and identifying reasonable measures to ensure a trade secret is protected
  • Advising companies on whether restrictive covenants are needed, and drafting appropriate agreements (e.g., noncompetition agreements, nonsolicitation agreements, confidentiality agreements, etc.) 
  • Advising companies regarding implementation issues, such as how to implement a new program for existing employees
  • Advising companies concerning the hiring of candidates who have restrictive covenants with their former employers, and negotiating terms to allow the hiring of those candidates 
  • Pre-lawsuit investigations
  • Injunctive relief 
  • Litigation arising from alleged violations of agreements and restrictive covenants, including breach of contract, misappropriation of trade secrets, conversion, statutory theft, tortious interference, and other claims 

Our Team

Our experienced lawyers routinely help companies protect their business interests and information. We have successfully handled cases for employers and employees, including obtaining high value settlements, dismissals, restraining orders, injunctions, pre-lawsuit settlements, and favorable court decisions. We are well prepared to move quickly to protect our clients' interests if litigation becomes necessary. Often, we successfully obtain immediate injunctive relief or defend against such an effort by an opposing party. Our litigators are recognized in the field, and we are proud of our record of success. Our lawyers also regularly give presentations and write for national publications on topics related to noncompetition agreements and trade secret protection, such as tips and best practices. 

    • Experience
      • Represented three defendants, including two former sales-related employees and their new employer. Plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction was granted in a very limited part and denied in part. Essentially, the former employees were enjoined from soliciting any prospective client of the plaintiff as to which the former employee helped to prepare a response to a Response for Proposal. After extensive discovery, and in response to our threat to file a motion for summary judgment, the case settled.
      • Successfully represented a territory manager on behalf of his new employer, a major industrial chemical developer and manufacturer. Our client’s former employer — who had summarily discharged him after less than a year on the job — was aggressively pursuing a noncompete enforcement action in Massachusetts state court. The case presented numerous complexities, including the application of another jurisdiction’s law, various potential counterclaims, and the operation of a mandatory arbitration agreement requiring the parties to arbitrate disputes in another state. We ultimately defeated the former employer’s motion for a preliminary injunction via utilization of the single-justice appeal process of the Massachusetts Appeals Court. Based on our successful appeal, we were able to engineer a very favorable resolution of the matter for our client.
      • Represented a national limousine company and several of its individual employees in the defense of a noncompetition enforcement action in New York state court. We maintained a vigorous defense against the former employer pursuing the matter – a major competitor of our client — including the prosecution of various counterclaims. The case generated significant media attention favorable to our client, being the subject of articles in both The Boston Globe and Boston Magazine.
      • Successfully prosecuted a noncompetition enforcement action on behalf of an online mortgage broker against a former loan officer who left our client’s employer to join a competitor. We aggressively pursued expedited discovery, which enabled us to engineer an early favorable resolution of the matter.
      • Prosecuted claims for a uniform and linen rental company to enforce a noncompete agreement against a former employee, a driver/sales representative. Obtained a preliminary order enjoining former employee from working for a competitor in two states and all but two counties in a third state.

      • Defended a subcontractor for a coin manufacturer from a noncompetition covenant that precluded a worker from soliciting clients of the contractor. Court denied our adversary’s motion for a preliminary injunction. The case settled, and the parties effectively just walked away.

      • Defended a publishing company and three new employees from claims of tortious interference by their former employer. We asserted counterclaims for tortious interference with contractual relations and moved to dismiss the claims against the company. The former employer agreed to dismissal of the lawsuit.

      • Represented a company and two new employees from claims for breach of a noncompetition agreement and misappropriation of trade secrets. After exchange of discovery, the case settled.

      • Represented a former employee who was sued for breaching a noncompetition agreement. Even before we answered, we informed plaintiff’s counsel that the noncompete at issue had been superseded by a subsequent employment agreement that did not contain a noncompetition agreement and by significant changes in employment. When plaintiff did not voluntarily dismiss the case, we answered and filed summary judgment, which we won. We then won our motion for reimbursement of attorneys' fees.

      • Served as counsel to the defendant in a highly publicized and frequently cited noncompetition case brought by a company that operates an information technology Web site. Our attorneys shielded our client from the plaintiff's repeated motions to prevent the employee from working as director of content for our client. The case raised novel issues of fact and law, including the applicability of the so-called "inevitable disclosure doctrine" and the interpretation of noncompetition and trade secret restrictions in a high-tech setting. The firm was victorious for our client in the lower court action and on appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
      • Provide regular advice and representation to a national information technology consulting and research company on various noncompetition and trade secret matters, including evaluating risks associated with hiring employees who are subject to non-compete agreements with their former employer, defense of claims and threatening and pursuing legal action against employees who violate their noncompete agreement and/or misappropriate the company's trade secrets and confidential information.
      • Investigated and prosecuted former president, vice president, and plant manager in claims alleging misappropriation of trade secrets, theft, and breach of fiduciary duties for establishing and running a competitive manufacturing business using our client's employees.
      • Investigated and prosecuted physician in claims alleging breach of noncompetition agreement and misappropriation of trade secrets for medical group, resulting in settlement agreement during trial of preliminary injunction.
      • Defended HMO and its managers and assisted defense counsel for current employee who was defending that employee from claims for breach of a noncompete, nonsolicitation, and nondisclosure agreement by his former employer. With our assistance, our current employee defeated his former employer's application for a temporary injunction.
      • Investigated and prosecuted former mortgage broker in claims alleging breach of a noncompetition agreement, breach of a duty of loyalty, tortious interference, misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair trade practices, and conversion. Resulted in stipulated judgment enforcing the agreement.
      • Investigated and prosecuted former home care managers who left to form a competing business in claims alleging breach of a noncompete agreement, breach of a duty of loyalty, tortious interference, misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair trade practices, and conversion. Resulted in stipulated judgment enforcing the agreement.
      • Investigated and prosecuted former building supply salesperson in claims alleging breach of a noncompete agreement, tortious interference, and unfair trade practices. Converted to case seeking damages rather than injunctive relief and fashioned favorable monetary settlement.
      • Investigated and prosecuted former insurance salesperson in claims alleging breach of a noncompete agreement, breach of a duty of loyalty, tortious interference, misappropriation of trade secrets, and unfair trade practices. Resulted in stipulated judgment enforcing the agreement.
      • Advised and drafted variety of agreements for noncompete, nonsolicitation, confidentiality, etc. for clients in the health care, insurance, limousine, banking, food manufacturing, retail, and other industries.
      • Negotiated a successful nonmonetary resolution to claims against a Fortune 100 company that alleged raiding and hiring employees subject to noncompetition agreements.

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    • News
      • October 14, 2016

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Write Article for Lexis Practice Advisor

        • » more info
    • Publications + Presentations
    • "Prelitigation Steps for Trade Secret and Noncompete Cases," published in Lexis Practice Advisor, co-authored by Matthew T. Miklave, Ian T. Clarke-Fisher and Sandra Marin Lautier (Updated, July 2019)
      • » more info
      • View article

      "Can You Keep a Secret? Why Now Is the Time for a Trade Secrets Audit," published in Connections: Cambridge Chamber of Commerce Newsletter (2/2010)

      "Massachusetts Trade Secret Law: 2007," published in Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (4/11/2007)

      "Is an Employer Liable When Its Sales Employee Breaches a Noncompetition or Nonsolicitation Agreement with a Former Employer?" published in Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (2007)

      "Enforcing Noncompetition Agreements Against Out-of-State Employees," published in Connections: Cambridge Chamber of Commerce Newsletter (12/2006)
      • » more info

      "Will New England Courts Adopt the 'Inevitable Disclosure' Doctrine?" published in New England In-House (4/2004)

      "Noncompetition Agreements and Other Restrictive Covenants: Are They Right for Your Business?" published in Mass High Tech Magazine (2/2/2004)

      "Criminalization of Trade Secret Theft: On the Second Anniversary of the Economic Espionage Act," published in Currents: International Trade Law Journal, authored by Joseph F. Savage (Summer 1999)

      "The Next War? Federal Prosecutors Focus on Intellectual Property Crimes," published in Boston Bar Journal, authored by Joseph F. Savage (Nov/Dec 1997)

Our Team