Asked in Business Formation for Texas

Q: I consulted (without a K) for a tech company that's struggling. They owed me money so I quit. Can I compete w/ them?

I found a tech solution to their problems. The CEO was impressed but the Board rejected my concept. CEO later told me they didn't 'get it.' He was very angry. After I quit, the Board fired all but two guys: an engineer and the CEO The company is failing but still exists on paper. They were well financed with angel money but never got off the ground. Some blame the CTO for that (and indirectly me I guess) but at this point it seems they cannot afford or are unwilling to invest any more chasing tech solutions. After the CTO was fired, the CEO called me and apologized. He then either resigned or was fired. Several fired employees liked my idea but some had contracts with weak non competes. My idea has merit and I'd like to develop it but I have no money. I met some Board members later on and asked if they'd reconsider my idea. Instead of an answer I got a letter from their lawyer threatening to sue me if I start a company. I'm confused. Can they stop me? I cant afford a law suit.

Related Topics:
1 Lawyer Answer
Tri Minh Nguyen
Tri Minh Nguyen
  • Houston, TX
  • Licensed in Texas

A: Hello. Generally, non-competes should be in writing because they should express a time limit for the non-compete and what the scope of the non-compete should be. If you signed a document that includes a non-compete clause or a non-compete language, then you'd want to analyze that language and get an attorney's take on it. Some non-competes are narrow and some are broad. I understand that you didn't have a contract, but did you sign something else with the company - like on-boarding paperwork, confidentiality agreement, etc. These are all important documents and information for an attorney to know.

Additionally, as a contractor, depending on the type of work you did, the work product that you developed for the company could belong to the company (see works made for hire article here -; thus you'd want to analyze this particular issue with your attorney as well, especially if you signed a document assigning the company your rights to the intellectual property or idea. You'd want to be careful using an idea that actually belongs to the company. A qualified attorney can help you work through these issues.

Good luck!

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.