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Understanding Noncompete Agreements: How to Enforce and Defend Against Them

By: LS Carlson Law April 19th, 2023

As a business owner, you may require your employees to sign noncompete agreements to protect your trade secrets and prevent them from competing against you. But what exactly are noncompete agreements, and how can you enforce or defend against them in court? In this post, we'll explain the basics of noncompete agreements and offer some tips for navigating them.

What are Noncompete Agreements?

Noncompete agreements, also known as restrictive covenants or noncompete clauses, are contractual agreements between employers and employees that prohibit the employees from working for competitors or starting a competing business for a certain period after leaving their current job. Noncompete agreements typically include provisions that limit the geographic area and time frame during which the employee cannot engage in competitive activities.

Enforcing Noncompete Agreements

To enforce a noncompete agreement in California, the employer must show that the agreement is necessary to protect trade secrets or other confidential information, and that the restrictions imposed are reasonable in scope and duration. California law also prohibits noncompete agreements that prevent employees from engaging in lawful professions, trades, or businesses.

If you believe that an employee has breached a noncompete agreement, you may file a lawsuit seeking injunctive relief and damages. Injunctive relief may require the court to order the employee to stop engaging in competitive activities or return any confidential information to the employer.

Defending Against Noncompete Agreements

If you are an employee who has signed a noncompete agreement and want to work for a competitor or start your own business, you may seek to have the agreement declared unenforceable. You may argue that the agreement is overly broad, unreasonable in duration or geographic scope, or that it prevents you from working in your chosen profession or trade.

Under California law, noncompete agreements are generally disfavored and will only be enforced if they meet specific requirements. Therefore, if you believe that your noncompete agreement is unenforceable, you may challenge it in court.


Noncompete agreements can be a powerful tool for protecting your business interests, but they must be carefully crafted to comply with California law and be reasonable in scope and duration. As a business owner, it's essential to understand the legal requirements for enforcing noncompete agreements and to ensure that your employees' agreements are enforceable.

If you're facing a dispute involving noncompete agreements, it's essential to work with an experienced business litigation attorney who can help you protect your interests. At LS Carlson Law, our attorneys have extensive experience representing business owners and employees in noncompete agreement disputes. Contact us today to learn how we can assist you.

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