Intellectual Property Law

New Matter WINTER 2020, Volume 45, Number 4

CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT The Independent Wrong in Tortious Interference Claims and the Reasonableness of Non-Compete Provisions in Business Contracts

Leaf Williams

Reichman Jorgensen

While it has been settled for some time that a claim for intentional interference with prospective economic advantage under California law requires the plaintiff to allege an independently wrongful or unlawful act, California jurisprudence has been less clear in addressing whether independently wrongful conduct is necessary to sustain a claim of interference with an existing at-will contract. Litigants and courts applying California law have also taken different positions on whether the California Business and Professions Code automatically prohibits non-compete clauses that do not satisfy the requirements of particular exceptions.1 In August, the California Supreme Court resolved both of these issues.

In 2017, Ixchel Pharma, LLC ("Ixchel") brought antitrust and state tort claims against Biogen Inc. ("Biogen") based on a 2016 agreement that Ixchel had entered into with non-party Forward Pharma FA ApS ("Forward") to develop a drug that treats a neurological disorder called Friedreich’s ataxia, as well as a 2017 settlement agreement between Biogen and Forward.2

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