Tag Archives: FTC

Forty-seven state legislatures as well as Washington, D.C. – with the approval of Congress – have spent years honing their noncompete laws to fit their local communities and industries. In one fell swoop, three Commissioners at the FTC are proposing to undo all of it. With it, they will also eliminate the use of a broad swath of nondisclosure, nonsolicitation, no-service, no-recruit, and no-hire agreements. Companies have six things they need to do now.
Once again, we have resounding unanimity on the issues and recommendations to the FTC and DOJ, as they consider whether to regulate (and if so, how) noncompetes, nondisclosure agreements, and other restrictive covenants. 70 lawyers who practice extensively in the area of trade secret and restrictive covenant law agree: federal regulation is likely inappropriate, definitely premature, and, in any event, should be limited.
“Non-compete agreements that are unreasonable as to temporal length, subject matter, and/or geographic scope will be found to violate both federal and state antitrust laws.”

That’s new — especially because it’s from Federal Trade Commission Commissioner Christine Wilson.

But, at the end, Commissioner Wilson observed, “The elected officials in each state are best situated to weigh the costs and benefits of non-competes and make decisions tailored to the unique circumstances in their jurisdictions. . . . A federal solution at this time is premature.”
Contracts containing restrictive covenants (noncompetes, nonsolicitation agreements, and the like) have been the province of state regulation for over 200 years. However, starting in 2015, the federal government has been stepping into the breach through proposed legislation (most recently two bills to ban all employee noncompetes and one to amend the FLSA to ban noncompetes for nonexempt workers), FTC review (starting with a workshop in January 2020), and an Executive Order (on July 9, 2021) “encouraging” the FTC to “curtail the unfair use of non-compete clauses . . . .” While that’s not news, what is news is that earlier this week (September 14, 2021), the FTC issued a public statement that — if it is as broad as it appears — seems to presume that the FTC has authority to regulate these types of contracts.