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Massachusetts Law About Noncompetition Agreements

Massachusetts Laws

The following laws prohibit noncompetition agreements for certain professions:

Selected Case Law

Boulanger v. Dunkin' Donuts, Inc., 442 Mass. 635 (2004) Under the circumstances, "covenants not to compete signed by the plaintiff as part of his franchise agreements with the defendant were enforceable."

F. A. Bartlett Tree Expert Company vs. Barrington, 353 Mass. 585 (1968) This case sets the standared for the material change doctrine "where it appeared that after working under that contract for some years the salesman's remuneration and sales area were changed substantially..."

Invidia, LLC v. DiFonzo (Mass. Superior Court, Middlesex, Oct. 22, 2012), Memorandum of Decision and Order on Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction, Wilson, Paul D., J.) Hairdresser posting news of job change on Facebook is not solicitation of former employer's customers.

Marine Contractors Co., Inc. v. Hurley, 365 Mass. 280 (1974) "Agreement not to compete with Marine was reasonable in time and space."

All Stainless, Inc. v. Colby, 364 Mass. 773 (1974) "A covenant not to compete contained in a contract for personal services will be enforced if it is reasonable, based on all the circumstances."

Richmond Brothers, Inc. v. Westinghouse Broadcasting Co., Inc., 357 Mass. 106 (1970) An employer is not entitled to protection against ordinary competition.

Novelty Bias Binding Co. v. Shevrin, 342 Mass. 714 (1961) "It has been long settled in this Commonwealth that a covenant inserted in a contract for personal service restricting trade or competition or freedom of employment is not invalid and may be enforced in equity provided it is necessary for the protection of the employer, is reasonably limited in time and space, and is consonant with the public interest. What is reasonable depends on the facts in each case."

New England Tree Expert Co., Inc. v. Russell, 306 Mass. 504 (1940) " It is settled in this Commonwealth that such contracts are divisible and will not be enforced as to any parts of the covenant that are not reasonably necessary for the protection of the good will of the employer's business.""What is reasonable depends upon the facts in each case"

Other Web Sources

A Brief History of Non-Compete Laws in Massachusetts, BostInno.com, April 10, 2014. Outlines the history of non-compete agreements from 1711 through 2014.

Economy likely to force changes to noncompete pacts,” by Mary Pratt. Boston Business Journal, March 6, 2009.

An Explanation on Covenants Not to Compete in Massachusetts, Mass. Secretary of the Commonwealth, Citizen Information Service.

Fair Competition Law, Beck Reed Riden LLP. The focus here is broader than just noncompetition, and includes trade secrets, privacy and security, intellectual property and unfair competition. It is also not specific to Massachusetts, but provides substantive resources on the topic, including 50-state surveys.

Massachusetts Noncompete Law Blog, Foley Hoag. "[F]ocuses on developments in Massachusetts in the areas of covenants not to compete, non-solicitation and non-disclosure agreements, trade secrets and the many related issues that arise when employees move between employers."

Non-Compete Agreements: A Proposal for Fairness and Predictability, Kevin G. Powers and Linda Evans. "This article criticizes non-compete agreements as overly-restrictive and their enforcement as unpredictable. The authors argue that non-competes should be presumptively invalid, thereby compelling judicial refinement of protectable information and synchronizing the law with economic developments."

Non-Compete Clause: Massachusetts, Wikipedia. This is wikipedia, so use with great caution and be sure to validate what you read by going directly to the cited references. Despite the disclaimer, we've included this because it provides a clear summary of Mass. law with extensive references to case law.

Print Sources

Drafting and Enforcing Covenants Not to Compete, BNA Books, 2009.

Making and breaking noncompete agreements, Mass. Bar Institute, 2006.

Negotiating, drafting, and enforcing noncompetition agreements and related restrictive covenants, MCLE, 2009.