What is a protectible interest?
A. Ormco Corporation v Johns, 838 So.2d 360 (Ala. 2003): “Protectible interests certainly include, but are not limited to, those mentioned above: valuable customer relationships and goodwill that have been established by the defendant as an employee of the plaintiff and confidential information, such as trade secrets and confidential business practices.”
B. Keystone Automotive Industries v Stevens, 838 So.2d. 360 (Ala. 2003): Regarding the first factor, our Supreme Court has explained that in order to have a protectable interest, the employer must possess " 'a substantial right in its business sufficiently unique to warrant the type of protection contemplated by [a] noncompetition agreement.' " DeVoe, 413 So.2d at 1142 (quoting Cullman Broad. Co. v. Bosley, 373 So.2d 830, 836 (Ala.1979)). Moreover, "[a] protectable interest may exist when an employee is 'in a position to gain confidential information, [to gain] access to secret lists, or to develop a close relationship with clients.' " Clark v. Liberty Nat'l Life Ins. Co., 592 So.2d 564, 566 (Ala.1992) (quoting DeVoe, 413 So.2d at 1143) (emphasis added).
C. Nobles-Hamilton v Thompson, 838 So.2d 360 (Ala Civ App 2003): However, employees who have access to customer lists and who develop close relationships with the customers of their employers have repeatedly been restrained from entering into competition with their employers because the customer base is a protectible interest.
[This is only a summary of a few cases. This is presented for informational purposes only. Contact a lawyer for an assessment of your situation.]