What are my rights if I would like to start a business that could possibly compete with a company in which I signed a non-compete agreement with?

UPDATED: Dec 31, 2015

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What are my rights if I would like to start a business that could possibly compete with a company in which I signed a non-compete agreement with?

The agreement is confusing as it says “During the term of this agreement and for a period of twelve (60) months after the termination of this agreement, employee shall not compete…”. It has been over 3 years since I worked there and I do not know if 12 months or 60 months is the period of non-competition, or do they cancel each other out since it is not clear what the term is?

Asked on December 31, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Colorado


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

When there is an ambiguity in a contract, courts will interpret it in light of what they can perceive of the parties' intentions and with general legal principals. A 5 year (60 month) noncompetion would be unenforceably long (while noncompetes are legal, the law disfavors them and will not allow them to be longer than reasonably necessary to protect the employer while also not making it impossuble for the employee to earn a living) against anyone but a company owner who agreed to a noncompete as part of selling his business; one year, however, us a common length. Therefore it is virtually certain that a court would find the duration tobe twelve months.

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