In Texas a non-compete agreement has to be reasonable in time and scope and ancillary to an otherwise enforceable agreement. The latter is difficult to decipher but basically there must be an agreement where the non-compete enforcer has agreed to give something to the enforcee and the non-compete protects what was provided. In most cases this would include trade secrets or some type of other proprietary information.
What have Texas courts concluded does not give rise to a non-compete? A few examples:
- financial benefits;
- a promise to compensate an employee in the event of economic hardship;
- a deferred compensation agreement;
- stock option; and
- the payment of money.
We are waiting on an opinion from the Texas Supreme Court dealing with whether stock options can serve the basis for a non-compete. Likely not considering the dearth of law stating that compensation cannot, but we shall see.