Employment Agreements

What is a non-compete agreement?

A non-compete agreement is one in which an employer requires an applicant or employee to sign an agreement not to work for a competitor and not to form a competing business during the term of employment and for a period of time afterwards. Companies may ask an independent contractor to sign a non-compete as well.

What is a non-solicitation agreement?

A non-solicitation agreement provides that an individual may not solicit the employer's customers or employees if the individual starts a competing business or works for another employer.

What are invention assignment provisions?

An employer may protect inventions created by its employees or independent contractors through express assignment agreements which assigns ownership of inventions (and related intellectual property) to the company.

Enforceability of an employment contract

The enforceability of "restrictive covenants" such as non-competes and non-solicitation agreements depend upon state law and depend upon the reasonableness of the terms of the non-compete and non-solicitation agreements. Whether a non-compete or non-solicitation agreement is reasonable depends upon the facts of the case, including the extent of the geographic area involved, the duration of the agreement and the scope of the work involved. Pennsylvania law also requires that employees receive something in return for agreeing not to compete, whether it is employment itself when hired or something additional, after the employee's service has already begun.

Agreements to assign the ownership of an invention to an employer are presumed where a person is hired for the purpose of using his or her inventive ability to solve a specific problem or to design a certain procedure or device for the employer. In such a case the invention is the precise subject of the employment contract. However, where an employee invents something that he or she was not specifically hired to create, the presumption will not apply and a business will need an agreement in writing to be protected. Thus, the best way to protect a company's ownership interest in an invention is to assign ownership in writing.

Houston Harbaugh attorneys have experience advising businesses regarding agreements with employees and independent contractors designed to protect a company's intellectual property. This experience includes reviewing, drafting and litigating such agreements for companies. Thus, we can advise businesses preparing and negotiating these agreements. We can also advise businesses as to the enforceability of existing agreements and we can represent businesses in lawsuits involving these agreements.

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