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Kevin Cloutier is a partner in the Labor and Employment and Business Trials Practice Groups.  Kevin is the Leader of the Firm's Non-Compete and Trade Secrets Teams.

In a blog earlier this year, we discussed the Delaware Chancery Court’s refusal to enforce a sale of business non-compete in Kodiak Building Partners, LLC v Adams. We wondered then whether Kodiak represented a one-off decision or whether it augured a trend that might give buyers of businesses pause. Delaware courts seem to have answered the question. In what constitutes a notable trend for buyers of businesses, Delaware courts have twice more refused to enforce non-competes under a sale of a business analysis. 

Continue Reading Buyer Beware: Delaware Courts Continue to Refuse to Enforce Deal-Based Non-Competes

Courts and state legislatures continue to take aim at post-employment non-competes. In a companion blog, we recently detailed the Federal Trade Commission’s proposed rule banning post-employment non-competes. However, for years (and even under the FTC’s overreaching proposed rule), non-competes in the sale of business context have generally received less scrutiny.

Continue Reading Buyer Beware: Delaware Declines to Enforce Sale of Business Non-Compete

On January 5, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced a broad proposed rule that would ban employers from imposing noncompete clauses on their workers. The FTC press release announcing the proposed rule states that noncompete clauses—which apply to about one in five American workers—suppress wages, hamper innovation, block entrepreneurs from starting new businesses and reduce American workers’ earnings between $250 billion and $296 billion per year.[1] The proposed rule would prohibit employers from: (1) entering into or attempting to enter into a noncompete with a worker; (2) maintaining a noncompete with a worker; or (3) representing to a worker, under certain circumstances, that the worker is subject to a noncompete. The term “worker” covers paid staff in addition to independent contractors and unpaid staff. The proposed rule does not apply to noncompete provisions imposed upon 25% owners of a business in transaction documents related to the sale of the business. The proposal is subject to a 60-day public comment period commencing when the Federal Register publishes the proposed rule.

Continue Reading FTC Seeks to Ban Noncompete Agreements in Employment Contracts

Since President Biden’s July 2021 direction to the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) to “curtail the unfair use of non-compete clauses and other clauses or agreements that may unfairly limit worker mobility,” the FTC has ratcheted up its scrutiny of and investigations into non-compete agreements and other restrictive covenants. Now, the FTC has expanded beyond post-employment restrictive covenants to tackle “sale of business” non-competes. Most recently, the FTC voted in favor of a deal-changing proposed order against ARKO Corp. related to its 2021 acquisition of sixty fuel outlets from Corrigan Oil Company.

Continue Reading Buyer (and Seller) Beware: The FTC Is Coming for Your M&A Non-Competes

A recent decision by a New York federal district court illustrates significant potential pitfalls for sellers in leveraged buyouts and similarly structured transactions.  In particular, it highlights the potential risks under fiduciary duty theories to directors and private equity-appointed directors, even in multi-step transactions with customary disclaimers and exculpatory by-laws.
Continue Reading Sellers Beware: Fiduciary Duty Risks to Directors