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Everyone knows the business world can be brutal. Companies come and go, and if you want to carve out your own space and build toward success, you need a solid plan. You need a competitive advantage. And you need to protect it.

Recently, the two lawsuits that highlight the ways Ohio businesses might use non-compete agreements to protect their business interests. However, as the article noted, the law for these contracts isn’t always black and white. If you want to use them to protect your business, you need to understand how they work.

How to make sure your non-compete can hold up in court

Some states place heavy limits on the use of non-compete agreements, but Ohio is much more accepting. Still, for an employer’s agreement to hold up in court, the employer must show it isn’t too restrictive. Its restrictions should fall within the bounds outlined by the Ohio Supreme Court with Raimonde v. Van Vlerah:

  • No greater than necessary to protect the employer’s legitimate business interests.
  • Does not impose undue hardship on the employee.
  • Does not harm the public by removing ordinary competition.

While these restrictions leave room for interpretation, they suggest the court’s goal is to enforce fair deals. The court doesn’t want employers to interfere with their employees’ rights to seek work, but it still wants to leave employers room to safeguard specific business interests. Good non-competes can be extremely focused and detailed, and an attorney with experience in business contracts can steer you in the right direction.

Be reasonable

The key may be to remember that non-compete agreements are meant to protect you, not to punish former employees. The more narrowly your agreement’s restrictions target the ways unfair competition may harm you, the more likely the agreement may be found reasonable, and the more likely you’ll be able to use it to protect your place in the market.