Katherine (Kate) Perrelli (a Seyfarth Shaw partner in Boston) recently published an op-ed, “Is Banning Non-Competes the Answer for Massachusetts?” in the September 21, 2009 issue of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. In her article, Kate discusses two bills addressing non-competition agreements that are currently pending in the Massachusetts legislature; one bill would enforce reasonably tailored non-competes, while the other would ban them altogether.  A full copy of the article is available here.

Kate outlines the supporting arguments of both critics and proponents of non-competition agreements. She explains that those criticizing non-competes claim that restrictive covenants limit employee mobility and industry innovation and should be banned altogether. Proponents of non-competes argue that banning them will hurt employers by negatively impacting employer research productivity and the employer’s ability to protect intellectual property. Kate contends that “reasonable and narrowly tailored non-competes, combined with non-solicitation and non-disclosure agreements, best balance the freedom and interests of the employee against the employer’s interest in protecting intellectual capital.”

Kate notes that “while encouraging the free flow of employees and ideas in our economy is appealing, the Legislature should listen carefully to Massachusetts’ business leaders and examine relevant research closely before embracing an all outright ban. Such action may in the end have harmful effects on startups, current employers and the Massachusetts’ economy generally.” She further notes that “banning non-competes in Massachusetts would be a dramatic sea change for companies currently and considering, doing business here.” 

A copy of joint proposed legislation is available here.  A hearing is scheduled for tomorrow, October 7, 2009, where debate will be heard on the competing bills.