Is there any way out of a non-compete agreement?

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Is there any way out of a non-compete agreement?

I own and business that has been in operation for 3 years. I provide print, graphic design, and website design services. Printing includes most anything imaginable from business cards, rack cards, brochures, flyers, post cards, etc. Last year I started selling advertisements via another company as a sub-contractor through my company. At the time verbally the owner stated I needed to sign a non-compete agreement so that I couldn’t go sell those ads and do everything on my own without him knowing. I agreed and signed a contract.

Asked on February 11, 2012 under Business Law, South Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Non-competition agreements are contracts, so if the other party has breached its obligations under the contract, that could provide a basis for terminating it without penalty.

Also, while non-competition agreements are enforceable, courts will sometimes reduce their duration and/or geographic scope if they are too extensive (called "blue penciling" them)--while the courts will protect the legimate business interests embodied in the agreement, they disfavor making it impossible for someone to earn a living. You should bring the agreement to an employment law or business law attorney, who can review it for you and advise you as to the likelihood of, in event of a dispute, being able to reduce the contact's scope and effect.


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