Russell Beck‘s article about the Federal Trade Commission’s proposal to essentially ban noncompete agreements was published by Law360 under the title, “Companies Must Brace For FTC’s Overbroad Noncompete Rule.”
The FTC’s proposed rule follows President Biden’s Executive Order on noncompete agreements
In the article, Russell reports that:
On Jan. 5, the FTC proposed a rule called the Noncompete Clause Rule, which would essentially ban all employee noncompetes, as well as any other restrictive covenant — including nondisclosure agreements — that can be interpreted by the FTC as a de facto noncompete.
The proposed rule would bar new noncompete agreements, and retroactively invalidate all existing noncompetes
ussell observes that the FTC’s
throw-the-baby-out-with-the-bathwater approach is a mistake. While a bright-line rule provides clarity and certainty, the unintended consequences are likely to be extreme and can potentially dwarf the benefits of a complete ban.
For example, the rule would almost certainly result in more trade secrets being unlawfully taken to a competitor. The theft of trade secrets is already estimated to cost the economy hundreds of billions of dollars a year and was a principle driver of the 2016 enactment of the Defend Trade Secrets Act.
Given the FTC’s move to ban noncompete agreements, Russell says the time to act is now:
Immediate action is required.
First, become part of the discussion. The FTC has requested public comment on virtually everything in its 218-page notice. Whether you use noncompetes or oppose their use, if you have something useful to add to the discussion, add it. This is the time to voice your opinion before it’s too late. But I encourage an honest debate with supportable facts and argument, not rhetoric and hyperbole.
This has been a four-plus year process that is crescendoing now. This will be the last chance for companies and individuals to provide input. If you have any, provide it. And do it now. You have 60 days from the date the notice is published in the Federal Register. While the FTC is almost certainly going to promulgate a rule, it has signaled a willingness to consider shifting to a more balanced approach.
In addition to the suggestion to give comments to the FTC, Russell also suggests that companies should stop using noncompete agreements for low-wage workers.
Russell concludes that
The FTC’s proposed rule needs to be a wake-up call. Companies need to immediately take steps to provide their input to the FTC and, simultaneously, brace for its impact — which may be far from certain for many months to come.
For up-to-the-minute analysis of legal issues concerning trade secrets and noncompete agreements in Massachusetts and across the United States, read Russell Beck’s blog, Fair Competition Law.
eck Reed Riden LLP is among the leading authorities in trade secret, noncompete, and unfair competition law, and our experience handling these matters is backed by our extensive employment law and business litigation experience. Our hand-picked team combines attorneys with complementary expertise and practical experience.
The Wall Street Journal featured Beck Reed Riden LLP’s noncompete agreement experience. In 2016, the White House issued a report entitled, “Non-Compete Agreements: Analysis of the Usage, Potential Issues, and State Responses,” relying in part on Beck Reed Riden LLP’s research and analysis, including its 50 State Noncompete Survey.
Russell Beck’s work in this area is well recognized, and includes:
- Over thirty years of experience working on trade secret, noncompete, and unfair competition matters
- Assisting the Obama White House as part of a small working group to develop President Obama’s Noncompete Call to Action
- Authoring the book Negotiating, Drafting, and Enforcing Noncompetition Agreements and Related Restrictive Covenants (6th ed., MCLE, Inc. 2021), used by other lawyers to help them with their noncompete matters
- Authoring the book Trade Secrets Law for the Massachusetts Practitioner (1st ed. MCLE 2019), covering trade secrets nationally, with a focus on Massachusetts law
- Drafting and advising on legislation for the Massachusetts Legislature to define, codify, and improve noncompetition law
- Teaching Trade Secrets and Restrictive Covenants at Boston University School of Law
- Founding and administering the award-winning blog, Fair Competition Law
- Establishing and administering the Noncompete Lawyers and Trade Secret Protection groups on LinkedIn, with over 1,660 and 870 members, respectively, around the world
- Founded and chaired the Trade Secret / Noncompete Practice for an AmLaw 100 firm
In addition, Russell was honored for his work in this area of law in the 2020 Chambers USA Guide, which stated that Russell Beck is “an expert in the field of trade secret and restrictive covenant law,” and is also noted for his “ability to adjust and come up with successful solutions.” Chambers noted that Russell “basically wrote the new Massachusetts statute on noncompetes” and that “he’s an expert in employee mobility and nonrestrictive covenants.”
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