Contract with client

I have a client that wants me to start working for his company in a long term relationship. in order to do so he wants to sign a contract with me in which after our contract ends I wouldnt be able to work in the same design field for a period of 2 years.

I understand he wants to protect the confidentiality of his projects but this will limit my possibilities of developing my skills further in a field in which by then, I will have acquired lots of experience.

I often see proffesionals: designers, engineers, etc… that move from company to company in the same field, is there a way I could accomplish this?

Thank you very much for your help.

You are talking about full time employment, not long term freelance, right?

Normal non-competes for full time are usually 9months of non competitive work with paid time for the period. 2 years is excessive. In any case I’ve heard most non-competes are not legally inforceable anyhow as nobody can keep you from earning a living. I’m not a lawyer do don’t know for sure, but I’ve heRd this a few times.

Anhow, normal principle of a non-compete has to be beneficial for both sides so 2 years with no compensation for it seems unreasonable, but also depends on how broad or specific the “industry” is defined as.


I’ve had to sign non-compete agreements a couple times (full time employment). Both were for 1 year and neither paid me a cent during that 1 year for the privilege of not competing. That’s actually a common package - the price to play.

I tested the first non-compete agreement by going to work for one of their suppliers, designing similar products. I got a nasty-gram from the ex-company threatening a legal SH!@-storm. I had an attorney write a reply back to them and never heard a word back. It’s an expensive fight that some companies don’t want to undertake. They thought the nasty-gram was going to be enough to scare me. Ten years later the president of that company called me with a job offer. Short memories…

I believe a non compete is only enforcable by 900 miles AND has to directly threaten the performance of your previous company. As a result it’s easy to enforce on most blue collar jobs and sometimes for sales reps, but when it comes to IP based jobs it’s near impossible to enforce. For example, if he’s a plumber and you open up across the street, then yes he can bust you. But if he’s a plumbing company and you design a few widgets for him out of 1,000 and go to work for a competitor, then no he can’t bust you. He would have to go through ALOT of work to prove that your work at the new competitor has significantly impacted the bottom line performance of his company.

As previously stated, it also impacts your primary source of income which will never hold up in court.

I would sign it because it’s a formality, but I really wouldn’t worry about him coming after you. Especially since he can’t even seem to take you on fulltime, I doubt he has the money or the nerve to obtain legal counsel.

It will be a fulltime job, designing products for them, the company develops ski equipment. I will negotiate with them to reduce the 2 years time. Your advice has been very useful, thank you very much for your help.

As a designer I am not 100% confortable with all the legal technical stuff, but real practical examples like yours make everything much clearer. I definitely have to reach a fair agreement so that I dont run into inconvenient situations in the future, thank you for your help.