Litigation Value: $100,000 * and possibly a permanent injunction
On the “Two Weeks” episode of The Office, Michael decided that since he was leaving Dunder Mifflin, he would start his own company, the Michael Scott Paper Company. This raises a lot of issues about what’s going to happen to the Scranton gang without their fearless leader -– and about unfair and unlawful competition.
The good news is that for once, we’re not talking about how much Dunder Mifflin might have to pay in court. Instead, we can talk about what the company might receive in court.
There are a couple of different ways this could play out. If Michael signed an agreement with the company promising not to compete with it or solicit its clients, he could be in big trouble. Valid noncompetition and nonsolicitation agreements provide great protection for employers. Opening up a competing business in town could be a problem. Plus, Michael certainly seemed ready to steal Dunder Mifflin clients to get his business started. So, if Dunder Mifflin made him sign such an agreement, Michael might be in trouble. The company could stop him from going through with his idea and would be in line to finally collect some money in court -– let’s estimate $100,000, even though putting a number on that kind of thing is really difficult since this is just beginning.
If Michael didn’t sign an agreement like that, it’s a little trickier. Generally, individuals can compete with their former employers, as long as they don’t use any trade secrets to do so. Michael talked about using Dunder Mifflin’s price points -– that is potentially the beginning of such a claim. Of course, I’m skeptical that Michael would be able to pull off anything that complicated, so it’s too early to tell what might happen in this situation.
Maybe we’ll see this unfold over the next few weeks. Maybe Michael and Pam will make it on their own like Jerry Maguire, Dorothy Boyd, and that goldfish did. Or maybe not. Stay tuned!