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Let’s not confuse non-compete agreements with trade secret agreements

As many folks know, I am strongly against employee non-compete agreements. Unfortunately, such agreements are the status quo in the State of MA and are widely used & enforced. I believe they stifle innovation and are simply unfair (for more info check out the Open Competition blog).

People that are in favor of maintaining employee non-competes often intentionally or sincerely confuse non-compete agreements with other agreements such as non-solicitation agreements (NSA) or non disclosure agreements (NDA).

To be clear: employee non-compete agreements are very different than NSAs or NDAs.

I believe in NSAs and NDAs. I believe those agreements are important and they serve to protect the vital interest of the company and their intellectual property. Companies own those things but they certainly don’t own their employees.

At this time there is a lawsuit between Zynga and Playdom related to these issues. The allegation states that former Zynga employees stole documents and solicited Zynga employees amongst other things. (note: I am not a shareholder of either company and I don’t have any insider knowledge).

Essentially Zynga believes those employees broke their NSA and NDAs. Plus, theft of documents is simply property theft which is also addressed by law. It’s illegal.

If those complaints are accurate then Zynga has every right to protect their interests here. And I would do that as well

But let’s not confuse non-competes with other agreements. They are different story.