The Latest on MA Noncompete Reform Efforts

It’s time for another update on the efforts in Massachusetts — now several years old — to abolish noncompetes or reform the law governing their enforcement.  In the past week, Scott Kirsner has focused again on this issue both in the Boston Sunday Globe and his Innovation Economy blog.  He provides a very useful summary of the status of the current efforts (as well as his own anti-noncompete stance) here.  Another useful resource for information on current legislative efforts and background on the law is Representative William Brownsberger’s blog.  Readers of this blog will recall that Rep. Brownsberger has co-sponsored a bill that would permit the continued enforcement of non-competition agreements but would impose significant substantive and procedural limitations.  Most recently, the proposed reform bill has been revised to eliminate and scale back certain restrictions to which pro-noncompete business groups had objected.   While those reform efforts continue into the 2011-12 legislative session, two new bills have been filed that would more or less follow the California model and prohibit non-competes in the employment context.  (Rep. Brownsberger had started off with this stance back in 2009, then backed off in the face of opposition.)  A bill filed in the MA House of Representatives (here) would prohibit noncompetes except in the context of a sale of business or departure from a partnership or limited liability company.  A bill filed in the Senate (here) does not specifically address these exceptions but focuses on non-competes in the employment and independent contractor contexts.  It’s not clear that any of these reform approaches has sufficient legislative support to move forward.

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