Florida Employment Agreement Lawyer
Trade Secret Protection Lawyers Serving South Florida and Beyond
Just as every company has intellectual property to protect, your business likely maintains trade secrets and other proprietary or confidential information that has value and is worth protecting. You may go through a great deal of trouble in screening and hiring employees you can trust to handle sensitive information, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also take additional steps to protect your company and your property from misuse by current or former employees. An experienced Florida employment agreement lawyer can help you by drafting a complete set of nondisclosure agreements, non-compete agreements, non-solicitation agreements, confidentiality agreements, work for hire agreements, and copyright Assignment Agreements to protect your intellectual property under Federal and State Statutes and give you recourse should an employee misappropriate trade secrets or intellectual property.
Some employees will likely learn of your trade secrets and confidential information as part of their job. A nondisclosure agreement can be required as a condition of employment and can prohibit the sharing of trade secrets or confidential information with competitors, as well as making such information public. Even threatening to reveal trade secrets may be a violation of a nondisclosure agreement, with provisions for the collection of actual damages or liquidated damages as a remedy for a breach. Nondisclosure agreements may be unilateral or mutual, and they are not limited to employment relationships but may include other business relationships as well, such as joint ventures where others may become privy to sensitive information.
A noncompete agreement may be used to keep a former employer from using the knowledge they gained to go into direct competition with you. Some courts disfavor covenants not to compete and will only enforce them to the extent they are reasonable in time and space. Generally, an agreement that lasts up to two years and only covers geographic areas where the company actually does business are more likely to be upheld and enforced than more restrictive agreements. Laws on non-compete agreements vary from state to state. For instance, Florida Statutes section 542.335 only allows restrictive covenants to the extent they protect legitimate business interests. This is a common requirement for such restrictive covenants. The Florida statute defines legitimate business interests to include trade secrets along with other valuable confidential business or professional information that otherwise does not qualify as a trade secret.
These agreements can prevent unfair competition gained through the use of confidential or proprietary information such as a customer list. A non-solicitation agreement can prevent a former employee from soliciting the company’s customers as well as soliciting other employees to leave and join a competing venture.
Confidentiality agreements are generally seen as less restrictive than noncompete or non-solicitation agreements, but they can be effective in keeping private information private. It is important in these agreements to carefully define what information is actually confidential. Unlike other agreements which may be limited in duration, a confidentiality agreement can remain effective for as long as the company maintains the information confidentially. Employers can protect their trade secret and confidential information by taking the appropriate steps to meet the requirements of federal and state statutes.
Work for Hire Agreements
Generally, a person who creates a work is considered its “author” and the automatic owner of the copyright in that work. However, under the works made for hire doctrine, your employer or the company that has commissioned your work, not you, is considered the author and automatic copyright owner of your work. Determining whether a work constitutes a work made for hire can be complicated particularly if an independent contractor created the work. A work for hire agreement specifies who owns the intellectual property associated with the work. It is generally advisable to have a signed work for hire agreement in place prior to the commencement of the work. A work for hire agreement helps to avoid confusion, uncertainty and litigation down the road over who or what entity owns the work created and who or what entity may file a copyright application as the owner of the work.
Copyright Assignment Agreement
A copyright assignment agreement may be used when one party is transferring the rights of a copyright to another party. For example, when a web developer is commissioned to create a website for you and you want to make sure that that you have all the intellectual property rights, including all copyrights in the website, it is advisable to have an agreement wherein the copyrights associated with the work are assigned to you so that the web developer does not have the right to use that same content elsewhere.
Contact a Florida Employment Agreements Lawyer
Put protections in place now to safeguard your trade secrets, copyrights, intellectual property and other sensitive information. Don’t wait until they are stolen and your company is irreparably harmed. Contact Perkins Law for an audit or consultation with an experienced Florida employment agreements attorney.