Restrictive covenants and non-compete agreements have been a frequent topic of this weblog in present months, and rightfully so. Non-competes are often thought-about environment friendly devices to help firms protect commerce secrets and techniques and strategies and aggressive advantages. However, these agreements are falling out of favor all through the nation – the DOJ not too way back file a Assertion of Curiosity in a state courtroom docket case taking the place that non-competes might violate the Sherman Antitrust Act. Extra, states proceed to maneuver authorized tips limiting or banning the utilization of noncompete agreements, along with Illinois, Oregon, Nevada, DCand Colorado.
Nevertheless one Texas courtroom docket seems to buck this improvement. Remaining month, Fort Bend County District Determine J. Christian Becerra granted a brief lived restraining order (“TRO”) in a commerce secret misappropriation case, forcing a lot of former workers to stop work for a competing enterprise, and limiting one particular employee from taking part in any competing work for any rivals. The catch? Not a single employee had a non-compete settlement.
The plaintiff throughout the case is DistributionNOW (“DNOW”), a Houston-based supplier of vitality and industrial choices, merchandise and engineered instruments packages. The defendants are former workers along with Toby Eoff, the earlier majority proprietor of Odessa Pumps. The criticism alleges that DNOW purchased Odessa Pumps from Eoff for over $170 million and Eoff stayed with the company as a Vice President, and rose up the ranks to Authorities Vice President in 2021. Then, on April 1, 2022, Eoff retired from his place and allegedly took with him a lot of recordsdata that contained “extraordinarily delicate DNOW enterprise data.” Shortly thereafter, at least 20 workers left their positions to hitch Permian Valve, a competitor of DNOW. Three of those workers allegedly took with them a lot of paperwork containing proprietary data.
On the day DNOW sued Eoff and the alternative former DNOW workers, DNOW filed for a TRO searching for to enjoin the earlier workers from disclosing or using any of the proprietary data allegedly misappropriated from DNOW. The Texas Courtroom granted the TRO, which prohibits the named former workers from working for Permian Valve, and significantly prohibits Eoff from “carrying on or taking part in actions whereby Eoff straight or indirectly, owns, manages, operates, controls, funds, invests in , participates in, consults with, or is in some other case linked to, any enterprise, explicit individual, partnership, company, firm or totally different entity which engages in any train that is in direct opponents with DNOW and Odessa Pumps throughout the enterprise of servicing and supplying pump instruments .”
The discount obtained is momentary, nonetheless it’s miles reaching. It grants a non-compete therapy when there appears to be no proof of use. Truly, the case bears watching. Maintain tuned.
The case is DNOW LP vs. Toby Eoff et al., case amount 22-DCV-294327, throughout the 434th District Courtroom in Fort Bend County, Texas.