Two Recent Massachusetts Cases Support an Employer’s Ability to Enforce Noncompete Agreements


Two recent cases applying Massachusetts law signal a willingness by state and federal courts to enforce noncompetition agreements. In each case, a judge held a former employee to the terms of fairly broad noncompetition agreements. Notably, each decision also cited to an often-criticized legal theory known as the “inevitable disclosure doctrine” in holding that the company was likely to experience irreparable harm, which justified an injunction against the company’s former employee.

In Empirix Inc. v. Alexy Ivanov, the plaintiff employer (Empirix) sued to prevent a former sales and engineering employee from going to work for a competitor. Mr. Ivanov had signed an agreement with Empirix that prohibited competition and solicitation for one year following employment in a broad geographic area. Mr. Ivanov was a specialized and trained engineer working on a new and technically advanced line of business for Empirix. After his return from months of training on Empirix’s new product, Mr. Ivanov accepted a position with a direct competitor of Empirix in the business in which Mr. Ivanov received such special training. Empirix sued to stop Mr. Ivanov’s new employment, and the Massachusetts (Suffolk) Superior Court granted Empirix’s motion for a preliminary injunction. In support of its decision, the court specifically noted that Mr. Ivanov would inevitably disclose company secrets under the circumstances, and further stated that the timing of Mr. Ivanov’s move to a competitive employer and the information he knew about Empirix’s new product merited injunctive relief.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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