Suppressing Mobility Suppresses Innovation

Suppressing Mobility Suppresses Innovation

New York Times -- Orly Lobel is the Don Weckstein professor of law at the University of San Diego and founding faculty member of the Center for Intellectual Property and Markets. She is the author, most recently, of "Talent Wants to be Free: Why We Should Learn to Love Leaks, Raids, and Free-Riding."

In 1414, in the earliest known noncompete case, an English clothes dyer tried to prevent his former worker from competing in the town for six months. A judge deemed the demand so absurd that he threatened to jail the employer.

Much has changed. Today noncompete clauses are a near-universal feature of employment contracts. While the number of lawsuits involving noncompetes has doubled in the past decade, the legal disputes only show the tip of the iceberg. Most employees will alter their careers and decision-making rather than risk challenging a noncompete. (Full Story

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