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I have a job offer from a company that produces simulation software for engineering applications, I am an applied mathematician.

They ask to sign a non-compete clause of a 1 year period, and worldwide. The term "competitors" is never defined.

This wording gives me quite a stomach ache, since I am not sure I will stay forever at this company. One year is very long. And the scientific computing industry is by far my preferred sector. It is not the only sector where I might find employment.

I would like to ask to remove the clause all together (I am already signing and NDA and a non solicitation agreement). Second best option would be to reduce the time frame to 3 months.

Is this a good move or I should do something else? Do you have any advice on how to approach the employer with this question, in case?

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    Does this answer your question? One-year non compete clause
    – Xavier J
    Oct 18, 2023 at 19:48
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    What is the location of this potential job? Several of the things you mention would render it unenforceable in some locations.
    – steve v
    Oct 18, 2023 at 20:29
  • @JoeStrazzere I should definitely decline the offer because I don't like the non-compete clause ? Is this what you mean? Could you elaborate more on this maybe?
    – Lilla
    Oct 18, 2023 at 21:57
  • @JoeStrazzere why so exactly? Because of what keshlam says?
    – Lilla
    Oct 19, 2023 at 2:12
  • such clauses often have wildly broad language, which is utterly unenforceable by law. The broader it is, the better in fact (depending on how you look at it) as many courts will simply throw them out on general principle if they're overly broad rather than go into minutiae when you challenge the clause (as they would with a narrowly defined one).
    – jwenting
    Oct 22, 2023 at 13:37

2 Answers 2

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There is a reason the term "competitors" is not defined: it usually ends up decided by a court, case by case. It is highly unlikely all scientific computing firms will be considered competitors. Perhaps one that simulates the same processes would be.

In some jurisdictions, non competes are essentially unenforceable. Even in those where they can be enforced, it is only within fairly strict parameters. You will not be left unable to work in your field. While it's worth a shot trying to get it amended, I wouldn't advise anyone to turn down a job for no reason other than a non-compete that feels too broad: they aren't enforced as broad restrictions, if they are enforced at all.

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The noncompete clause, if written properly, would prevent you from working on something that directly competes with what you've been doing. It might prevent you from working on something in this employer's specific field, simulation software for engineering applications. It shouldn't prevent you from doing other things in the scientific computing industry.

You can certainly ask, but odds of their agreeing to remove or reduce the noncompete are not good. It's there because they feel they need it there, and it's pretty common in science/engineering jobs. If they do agree it might be altered, you need to pay for a lawyer to work with them to draft the new one, since their lawyer is going to be looking out only for their interests, not yours.

You need to decide whether you're likely to find a job you like without a noncompete agreement.

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