Sigma-Aldrich Corp. v. Vikin -- Non-Compete Case Addressing Absence of Geographic Limitation and Trade Secret/Confidentiality Status
Case provides instructive consideration of a non-compete's insufficient geographic limitation and the issue of whether subject information was a trade secret or confidential.
Non-compete included restriction which limited defendant only from working for companies that sell products that compete with Sigma Research products, and only in locations where Sigma "markets or sells" Research products. This did not constitute a reasonable geographic scope, particularly without greater specificity with respect to a limitation on the class with whom contact was limited. Also, includes discussion of why burden was not met in demonstrating that the subject information was not known outside the business, that the information was not widley known within the company or to others involved in the business, or that measures had been taken to guard the "secrecy of the online marketplace and aggregation of such."
Sigma-Aldrich Corp. ("Sigma") appeals from the trial court's judgment in a court-tried case, denying its request for injunctive relief and ruling that a non-compete provision in an agreement ("Agreement") between Sigma and the defendant-respondent, Omar Vikin ("Defendant"), was unenforceable with regard to Defendant's new position at Alfa Aesar ("Alfa"), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Johnson-Matthey Catalog Co. Inc.
Division Four holds:
The lack of a geographic limitation in the Agreement between Sigma and Defendant renders the non-compete provision unenforceable without accompaniment by any specificity of limitation on the class with whom contact is limited. The global prohibition from working is an unlawful restraint on Defendant's right to compete. Moreover, Sigma did not establish that the information it sought to protect constituted a trade secret or protectable confidential information.