Courts have held that legitimate business interests exist when trade secrets and special customer relationships exist. If an employee, however, can show that there is little or no consistent business with the same clients, courts will likely find there is no actual protectable interest. Courts have also differentiated between trade secrets and other confidential information that fail to rise to the level of protection of a noncompete agreement.
Noncompete agreements also require consideration. Because South Carolina is an employment at-will state, courts have held that continued employment acts as sufficient consideration. Moreover, if hiring is conditioned on signing the noncompete agreement, consideration will be found to be sufficient.