Non-compete agreements are getting more attention, this time from Scott Kirsner in The Boston Globe today who urges for more common sense:
On a weekend when we celebrate American independence - and all of the blood and sweat that gave us the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness - I think it’s time for a declaration of a different sort. It is talented, smart, and driven people who make Massachusetts one of the most innovative places on earth. Our residents ought to be able to take their skills where they want and start companies when they want.
I agree with Scott that non-competes can hamper innovation, and have written about their effect. What is telling in Kirsner's article is a quote from an industry trade group about non-competes:
But most business groups oppose significant changes to the status quo. "Our members strongly feel that when they make an investment in an employee, it needs to be protected as it is under current law," says Brad MacDougall, at Associated Industries of Massachusetts, a trade group.
Companies should be more concerned about protecting their own intellectual property than preventing a former employee from taking another job, particularly when that employee gets laid off and is struggling to find work in this economy. Because at the end of the day, the companies that win should be the ones that innovate better, not the ones who lock up the most people.