Section 542.335 of the Florida Statutes permits non-compete agreements arising from: a) the sale of a business, b) an employment, agency, or independent contractor relationship, c) a licensing relationship, or d) a partnership. Contracts that restrain one from exercising a lawful profession, trade, or business, and that do not fall within the exceptions of the statute are generally void. However, when void non-compete agreement has been incorporated into a final judgment, it may still be enforceable. Peter Mavrick is a Miami non-compete attorney, and also advocates for clients in Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, and Palm Beach, Florida. The Mavrick Law Firm represents clients in breach of contract litigation, trade secret litigation, non-compete agreement litigation, employment litigation, trademark litigation, and other legal disputes in federal and state courts and in arbitration.
An example of this circumstance occurred in the case of Miller v. Preefer, 1 So. 3d 1278 (Fla. 4th DCA 2009). John W. Miller (Miller) owned and operated numerous restaurant and bar establishments under the “Ale House” name. Miller and nine associated companies filed a lawsuit against Jay Preefer, Richard Preefer, Jay Starr, and other associated companies (Preefer defendants). Miller’s lawsuit against Preefer defendants alleged trademark and service mark infringement based on Preefer defendants’ use of the name “Ale House.” Miller also alleged that Preefer defendants engaged in a pattern of unfair competition by registering various corporate names that included the words “Ale House,” and by utilizing Miller’s business model and menus.
The parties settled the lawsuit and entered a mediated settlement agreement. The parties agreed, among other things, on a non-compete provision that prohibited Miller from conducting a related restaurant business within a specific geographical area of Palm Beach County, Florida for fifty years. The trial court dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice as to all claims. The trial court entered a final judgment of dismissal which incorporated the settlement agreement. Jay Preefer sued Miller and alleged violations of the settlement agreement. Miller filed a counterclaim seeking a declaratory judgment finding that the non-compete was unenforceable. The parties settled the lawsuit and Miller’s counterclaim was dismissed without prejudice (meaning it can be refiled).