When you get a new job with a company, often there are many forms to complete as part of the onboarding process. Many companies choose to include a non-compete agreement in with their new hire paperwork. 
 
It is important to understand what a non-compete agreement can and cannot do. According to Findlaw, the point of a non-compete agreement is to protect the employer once you leave your place of work. 
 
What does a non-compete agreement cover? 
 
Like many contracts, non-compete agreements may pertain to many different things, depending on the industry you work in. Most commonly, non-compete agreements are to protect trade secrets or information that may be valuable to competitors. Essentially, a non-compete agreement makes sure that you, as an employee, do not share information that could benefit a competitor once you leave the company. Non-compete agreements may also prevent you from starting a competing business in the same geographical location as the company. 
 
Can a non-compete agreement apply indefinitely? 
 
The answer to this is no. Legally, a non-compete agreement cannot actively prevent an employee from seeking employment opportunities after leaving the initial company. They also must be “reasonable in scope.” This means that a non-compete agreement is unlikely to be enforceable for an indefinite period of time. 
 
Also, if you want to start a competing business against your original employer, the non-compete agreement can only apply to a certain geographical locale. With the internet and internet business being so prominent in the modern economy, the enforceability of non-compete agreements is very suspect concerning location. However, a non-compete agreement cannot prevent you from opening a competing company in a different jurisdiction.