Schutz von Geschäftsgeheimnissen in den USA

Dieser Artikel erschien in The Recorder und auf der Webseite http://www.mondaq.com. Es befasst sich mit dem Schutz von Geschäftsgeheimnissen und entsprechenden Vereinbarungen mit Arbeitnehmern anhand eines Kalifornischen Urteils. Vieles ist anwandbar als Leitlinie für die gesamte USA, manches zu beachten auch sinnvoll in Deutschland.

Nearly three years ago, the California Supreme Court handed down a decision that underscored California’s longstanding prohibition of employee noncompete agreements, Edwards v. Arthur Andersen, LLP, 44 Cal.4th 937 (2008). While California employers are generally aware that “noncompetes” are unenforceable in California, many are still having employees sign employment documents containing unenforceable restrictive covenants, and others believe that they can restrict an employee’s post-employment solicitation of former clients or customers. A good number of employers are still using old form employment agreements that contain restrictive covenants which are now clearly impermissible. Given the obstacles that exist in California, how can an employer with California employees protect its investment in its personnel and protect important and valuable proprietary information?

Any employer with California employees needs to understand that under California Business and Professions Code §16600, noncompete agreements are unenforceable, except when given in connection with the sale of the goodwill of business, the sale of a partnership interest, or the withdrawal from or dissolution of a partnership. Section 16600 provides: “[e]xcept as provided in this chapter, every contract by which anyone is restrained from engaging in a lawful profession, trade or business of any kind is to that extent void ...

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