A former employee cannot use a customer list compiled by his former employer in order to compete with it for business, the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas ruled Feb. 23 (Fireworks Spectacular Inc. v. Premier Pyrotechnics Inc., D. Kan., No. 99-2240-GTV, 2/23/00).

Matthew P. Sutcliffe went to work for Fireworks Spectacular Inc. and Piedmont Display Fireworks Inc. in 1996 as a commissioned salesperson. Within a year, he started serving as general manager of both companies in addition to acting as a salesperson. A written employment agreement containing a covenant not to compete was prepared, but never signed by Sutcliffe. In 1998, Sutcliffe left Fireworks Spectacular to start his own business, Premier Pyrotechnics Inc. The latter was intended to directly compete with the Sutcliffe’s former employer and now services several of plaintiffs’ former customers.

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