A law firm can terminate an at-will lawyer who refuses to sign an agreement prohibiting them from soliciting the firm’s customers or clients following cessation of employment, according to the Supreme Court of Kentucky. In Greissman v. Rawlings and Associates, PLLC, the court held that where a non-solicitation agreement included a savings clause which excepted the solicitation of legal work from where “to the extent necessary to comply with the rules of professional responsibility applicable attorneys,” it did not violate those rules as a matter of law. This is consistent with what we have previously written on this issue; so long as there is no restriction on the practice of law, post-employment restrictive covenants do not necessarily run afoul of states’ Rules of Professional Conduct (in most states, Rule 5.6, which is generally intended to protect clients, not attorneys). 
Continue Reading Supreme Court of Kentucky Rules That Firms May Require Lawyers to Sign Non-Solicitation Agreements That Exempt Legal Work

Following in the footsteps of its neighbors Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, Rhode Island recently enacted legislation that restricts the use of non-competition agreements with certain types of employees. The Rhode Island Noncompetition Agreement Act, which becomes effective on January 15, 2020, prohibits non-competes without regard to geographic location and duration for the following types of employees:

  • Non-exempt employees under the FLSA;
  • Undergraduate or graduate students participating in an internship or short-term employment;
  • Employees aged 18 or younger; and
  • Low-wage workers (defined as earning 250% or less of the federal poverty level ($31,225 per year under current data).


Continue Reading Rhode Island Joins the Fray, Passing Legislation that Restricts the Use of Non-Compete Agreements for Certain Low-Wage Workers

Washington state has joined the ranks of an ever-growing number of states that impose significant restrictions on employee non-compete agreements. On May 9, 2019, Governor Jay Inslee signed House Bill 1450, titled “An Act Relating to restraints, including noncompetition covenants, on persons engaging in lawful professions, trades, or businesses,” into law. The Act will go into effect on January 1, 2020. We reported on the bill in detail in March.

This change to Washington law is significant. Businesses with employees or independent contractors in the state should revisit their non-compete agreements and take the necessary steps to ensure compliance with the Act by the end of this year. Among other things:
Continue Reading Washington State Governor Signs Law Severely Limiting Non-Competes

As readers of this blog well know, there is a growing trend of state legislatures seeking to limit or outright ban non-competes. (See here, here, and here as just a few examples of state efforts to curb non-competes—not to mention the proposed federal legislation and international efforts—in the last six months.) Last week, the Washington Senate jumped on the bandwagon by passing a bill with a 30–18 vote that would severely limit the enforceability non-competes. (Similar efforts failed last year, as we reported here.)  Some of the key features of this year’s bill are as follows:
Continue Reading Washington State Lawmakers Seek to Partially Ban Non-Competes

After being slapped with a post-trial judgment last April totaling $2.2 million for misappropriation of confidential and proprietary information, two Wyoming bank executives were named in an unprecedented “Notice of Intent to Prohibit” filed in December by the Federal Reserve Board.  If these executives thought that more than two million dollars in civil liability was harsh, they were
Continue Reading Fed Seeks to Bar Two Bankers for Life for Stealing Confidential Information

Last week, Florida Senator Marco Rubio introduced the “Freedom to Compete Act” (the “Act”) proposing to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 to ban non-competes for most non-exempt workers. The Act is broadly drafted to void any agreement that restricts “any work for another employer,” “any work in a specified geographical area,” and “any work for another employer that is similar” to the employee’s prior work. While it purports to void only non-compete agreements, the bill’s use of the sweeping language “any work” could be interpreted to ban not only non-compete agreements, but other post-employment restrictive covenants such as customer and employee non-solicitation agreements. Further, the Act (if passed) would purportedly apply retroactively to agreements entered into before its enactment. 
Continue Reading Proposed Federal Non-Compete Legislation Could Have Unintended Consequences

On October 25-­27, 2018, Seyfarth attorneys will be attending the American Intellectual Property Law Association’s (AIPLA) Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.—this is one of the preeminent events for trade secret practitioners across the country.  Boston partner Erik Weibust will formally take on the role of Vice Chair of the AIPLA’s Trade Secrets Law Committee at the Annual Meeting, and Seyfarth’s
Continue Reading Seyfarth Attorneys to Participate in AIPLA’s 2018 Annual Meeting

In Seyfarth’s third installment in its 2018 Trade Secrets Webinar Series, Seyfarth attorneys Kate Perrelli, Dawn Mertineit, Justin Beyer, and Andrew Stark focused on trade secret audits, with an emphasis on the importance of a proactive, systematic approach to assessing and protecting trade secret portfolios.

As a conclusion to this well-received webinar, we compiled a summary of takeaways:

  • Recent government


Continue Reading Webinar Recap! The Anatomy of a Trade Secret Audit

On Monday, January 29th, Faraday & Future Inc., the electric car manufacturer founded by Chinese billionaire and entrepreneur Jia Yueting, filed a one-count Defend Trade Secrets Act complaint against Evelozcity, Inc., an electric car manufacturer that was recently created by Faraday & Future’s former CFO and CTO.  The case is Faraday & Future Inc. v. Evelozcity Inc., 18-cv-00737, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Western Division).
Continue Reading Start-Up Car Companies Clash in Electrifying Trade Secrets Case

The Massachusetts legislature is back at it again. Under new leadership, the Joint Committee on Labor & Workforce Development recently scheduled a hearing for October 31, 2017 on the non-compete reform bills proposed in January of this year. While we know little about the hearing, the bills to be discussed are presumably Senate Bill S.988 and companion House Bill H.2366.
Continue Reading Massachusetts Legislature Schedules Hearing on Non-Compete Reform