Seymour Kurland, Ian A. L. Strogatz, Philadelphia, for appellant.
Edward Gerard Conroy, Ballard, Spahr, Andrews & Ingersoll, Philadelphia, William H. Lamb, Lamb, Windle & McErlane, West Chester, for appellees.
Jones, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Eagen, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of this case. Roberts, J., filed a concurring opinion.
This appeal arises from the denial of a preliminary injunction which was sought to enforce a restrictive covenant in certain employee contracts.
The facts surrounding this appeal are as follows. In 1969 appellees Joseph H. Mulqueen, Jr. and Robert Conroy became employed by appellant, Fox-Morris Associates, Inc., which was in the business of executive placement. Pursuant to their employment, Conroy and Mulqueen signed employment contracts which contained the following restrictive covenant:
". . . The parties agree that the services of the Employee are unique and extraordinary and that the Company has given Employee access to confidential and valuable information as a result of which the use by Employee of trade secrets and/or customer lists,
applications and correspondence, would cause irreparable damage to the Company. Employee does agree that during the term of his employment and for a period of eighteen (18) months thereafter he will not disclose, use or furnish to anyone other than Company any trade secrets or other confidential information concerning the Company nor during such period will he, directly or indirectly, as principal, agent, stockholder, manager, representative, employee, counselor, or in any other capacity whatever, engage in the same or any similar business to that of Company within a one hundred mile radius of any city in which Company has established an office.
"Employee acknowledges that the above restrictions placed upon him are necessary for the reasonable and proper protection of Company's business and that in the event such restrictions become operative, he will be able to engage in other businesses for the purposes of earning a livelihood."
From 1970 to 1973, Conroy and Mulqueen renewed their employment contracts and each contract contained the identical restrictive covenant as previously quoted. In June of 1974, Conroy and Mulqueen, while still covered by the 1973 employment contract, gave notice of their intention to resign their positions. Thereafter, Conroy and Mulqueen entered the employment of K. Robert Brian, Inc., a corporation formed by another former employee of appellant, and engaged in the same executive placement field. On July 23, 1974, appellant filed a complaint in equity seeking to enforce the restrictive employment covenants against appellees Conroy and Mulqueen and against K. Robert Brian, Inc. The chancellor took testimony and denied the preliminary injunction ...