Our Chicago commercial litigation attorneys
realize that rapid technological innovation, mobility and the speed in which information is disseminated in commerce, has led business organizations, both small and large, to become increasingly concerned with protecting its intellectual property rights through restrictive covenants
. In the employee and employer context, businesses struggle to keep their trade secrets concealed after employees leave to work for competitors or to start their own business. Both business organizations
and Illinois courts recognize that employee knowledge and mobility increase the chances of trade secrets being misappropriated. Simply put, a restrictive covenant is a business agreement
developed for an employee so he or she will not engage in certain post-employment activities.
The more common restrictive covenants our Chicago commercial litigation attorneys defend and enforce on behalf of our business clients and business professionals include:
Public Policy in Illinois
Restrictive covenants that limit or unnecessarily restrict post-employment competitive activities are disfavored in Illinois. There is a limited exception to this Illinois public policy, however, when the restrictive covenant is necessary to protect the legitimate business interest of employers or the entrepreneur.
Several Legal Factors Analyzed by the Court
Is the restrictive coveant necessary for the protection of the legitimate interest of the employer;
Is the restrictive covenant reasonably limited with respect to time and geographic location;
Whether the restrictive covenant is unduly harsh and oppressive on the employee;
Whether the restrictive covenant is reasonable from the standpoint of Illinois public policy;
Whether the restrictive covenant was supported by valuable consideration.
Illinois courts strictly construe restrictive covenants, such as noncompete agreements. For example, Illinois courts have found that non-competition agreements sometimes impose unnecessary retrains on trade and post-employment opportunities, thus the agreements are carefully scrutinized and strictly construed.