In EDIX Media Group, Inc. v. Mahani, (Del. Ch., Dec. 12, 2006), read opinion here , the Chancery Court analyzes a long list of claims arising from the breach of a covenant-not-to-compete and related issues, in a 47-page opinion. Even The Wall Street Journal Law Blog today picked up on the first page of the opinion in which the Chancellor uses the argot of hobbyists in the after-market modification of cars. Specifically, in footnote 1 of the opinion, the court refers to a song by the rapper "50 Cent" for the definition of "whip" as a car. See Law Blog – WSJ.com : Chancellor William Chandler Is Off Da Hook!. (In the same post, the WSJ Blog refers to the Chancery Court as the most important corporate law tribunal in the nation.)
In EDIX, the plaintiff made allegations based on virtually every theory that could arise when an employee severs its relationship with the employer. Here the employers was the party who terminated the relationship, and the complaint included statutory claims of trade secret misappropriation and deceptive trade practices; common law duties of employees; breach of contract; defamation; and tortious interference with business relationships. The court distinguished between data that was confidential as compared to "trade secrets" (i.e., confidential data is not always a trade secret.) E-mail addresses of clients here were considered by the court to be confidential, but in the context of the facts of this case, the email addresses used by the ex-worker were not considered trade secrets, even though they were revealed to others after his employment ended.
An issue of first impression in Delaware decided by the court, was the enforceability of a covenant not to compete (or a restrictive covenant) against an independent contractor. Whether the ex-worker was an employee or an independent contractor was contested. The court discussed the factors in distinguishing between an employee and an independent contractor as well as the general principles applied to determine the enforceability of a restrictive covenant. Based on the facts of this case, the court "edited" the agreement to limit only direct competition as opposed to business activities that were "substantially similar". It was emphasized by the court that the overly broad restrictive covenant was not enforceable as written because it would not only deprive a person of his livelihood–but also his hobbies and any opportunity to work in his chosen industry in the area in which he lives.
Notably, the court "redlined" the agreement and only partially enforced it–as opposed to taking an "all or nothing" approach.
The damages awarded included injunctive relief but despite the treble and exemplary damages available by statute, the monetary award was quite nominal, however the court did award the reasonable costs the employer spent on third parties to investigate the emails the ex-worker sent to former clients from sites that the ex-worker thought (wrongly) were being sent anonymously.