In many states, covenants not to compete are considered valid so long as they are "reasonably" imposed in terms of duration, geography and other factors. California, however, has not followed this rule of reasonableness for more than a century.
Instead, Section 16600 of the California Business and Professions Code provides that "every contract by which anyone is restrained from engaging in a lawful profession, trade, or business of any kind is to that extent void." California courts have interpreted Section 16600 as evidencing a settled legislative policy in favor of open competition and employee mobility.
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