SECTION 1. Sections 42 and 42A of chapter 93 of the General Laws are hereby repealed.
SECTION 2. The General Laws are hereby amended by inserting after chapter 93K the following chapter:--
UNIFORM TRADE SECRETS ACT
Section 1. As used in this chapter the following words, shall unless the context clearly requires otherwise, have the following meanings:
(1) "Improper means", includes, without limitation, theft, bribery, misrepresentation, unreasonable intrusion into private physical or electronic space, or breach or inducement of a breach of a confidential relationship or other duty to limit acquisition, disclosure or use of information; reverse engineering from properly accessed materials or information is not improper means;
(i) an act of acquisition of a trade secret of another by a person who knows or who has reason to know that the trade secret was acquired by improper means; or
(ii) an act of disclosure or of use of a trade secret of another without that person's express or implied consent by a person who
(A) used improper means to acquire knowledge of the trade secret or
(B) at the time of the actor’s disclosure or use, knew or had reason to know that the actor’s knowledge of the trade secret was
[I] derived from or through a person who had utilized improper means to acquire it;
[II] acquired under circumstances giving rise to a duty to limit its acquisition, disclosure, or use; or
[III] derived from or through a person who owed a duty to the person seeking relief to limit its acquisition, disclosure, or use; or
(C) before a material change of the actor’s position, knew or had reason to know that it was a trade secret and that the actor’s knowledge of it had been acquired by accident, mistake, or through another person’s act described in subsections 1(2)(i) or 1(2)(ii)(A) or –(B).
(3) "Person", a natural person, corporation, business trust, estate, trust, partnership, association, joint venture, government, governmental subdivision or agency, or any other legal or commercial entity.
(4) "Trade secret", specified or specifiable information, whether or not fixed in tangible form or embodied in any tangible thing, including but not limited to a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, process, business strategy, customer list, invention, or scientific, technical, financial or customer data that
[i] at the time of the alleged misappropriation, provided economic advantage, actual or potential, from not being generally known to, and not being readily ascertainable by proper means by, others who might obtain economic advantage from its acquisition, disclosure or use; and
[ii] at the time of the alleged misappropriation was the subject of efforts that were reasonable under the circumstances, which may include reasonable notice, to protect against it being acquired, disclosed or used without the consent of the person properly asserting rights therein or such person's predecessor in interest.
Section 2. (a) Actual or threatened misappropriation may be enjoined upon principles of equity, including but not limited to consideration of prior party conduct and circumstances of potential use, upon a showing that information qualifying as a trade secret has been or is threatened to be misappropriated. Upon application to the court, an injunction shall be terminated when the trade secret has ceased to exist, but the injunction may be continued for an additional reasonable period of time in order to eliminate any economic advantage that otherwise would be derived from misappropriation.
(b) In exceptional circumstances, an injunction may condition future use upon payment of a reasonable royalty for no longer than the period of time for which use could have been prohibited. Exceptional circumstances include, but are not limited to, a material and prejudicial change of position prior to acquiring knowledge or reason to know of misappropriation that renders a prohibitive injunction inequitable.
(c) In appropriate circumstances, affirmative acts to protect a trade secret may be compelled by court order.
Section 3. (a) Except to the extent that a material and prejudicial change of position prior to acquiring knowledge or reason to know of misappropriation renders a monetary recovery inequitable, a complainant is entitled to recover damages for misappropriation of information qualifying as a trade secret. Damages can include both the actual loss caused by misappropriation and the unjust enrichment caused by misappropriation that is not taken into account in computing actual loss. In lieu of damages measured by any other methods, the damages caused by misappropriation may be measured by the imposition of liability for a reasonable royalty for a misappropriator's unauthorized disclosure or use of a trade secret.
(b) If willful and malicious misappropriation exists, the court may award exemplary damages in an amount not exceeding twice any award made under subsection (a).
Section 4. The court may award reasonable attorney's fees and costs to the prevailing party if: (i) a claim of misappropriation is made or defended in bad faith, (ii) a motion to enter or to terminate an injunction is made or resisted in bad faith, or (iii) willful and malicious misappropriation exists. In considering such an award, the court may take into account the claimant’s specification of trade secrets and the proof that such alleged trade secrets were misappropriated.
Section 5. (a) In an action under this chapter, a court shall preserve the secrecy of an alleged trade secret by reasonable means, which may include granting protective orders in connection with discovery proceedings, holding in-camera hearings, sealing the records of the action, and ordering any person involved in the litigation not to disclose an alleged trade secret without prior court approval.
(b) In an action under this chapter, in alleging trade secrets misappropriation a party must state with reasonable particularity the circumstances thereof, including the nature of the trade secrets and the basis for their protection. Before commencing discovery relating to an alleged trade secret, the party alleging misappropriation shall identify the trade secret with sufficient particularity under the circumstances of the case to allow the court to determine the appropriate parameters of discovery and to enable reasonably other parties to prepare their defense.
Section 6. An action for misappropriation must be brought within 3 years after the misappropriation is discovered or by the exercise of reasonable diligence should have been discovered. For the purposes of this chapter, a continuing disclosure or use constitutes a single claim.
Section 7. (a) Except as provided in subsection (b), this chapter shall supersede any conflicting laws of the Commonwealth providing civil remedies for the misappropriation of a trade secret.
(b) This chapter does not affect:
(1) contractual remedies, provided that, to the extent such remedies are based on an interest in the economic advantage of information claimed to be confidential, such confidentiality shall be determined according to the definition of trade secret in subsection 1(4), where the terms and circumstances of the underlying contract shall be considered in such determination;
(2) remedies based on submissions to governmental units;
(3) other civil remedies to the extent that they are not based upon misappropriation of a trade secret; or
(4) criminal remedies, whether or not based upon misappropriation of a trade secret.
Section 8. This chapter shall be applied and construed to effectuate its general purpose to make uniform the law with respect to the subject of this chapter among States enacting it.
Section 9. This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the Uniform Trade Secrets Act.
SECTION 3. Chapter 149 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2014 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after section 24K the following section:-
Section 24L. Massachusetts Noncompetition Agreement Act
(a) As used in this section, the following words shall have the following meanings:
“Business entity”: any person or group of persons performing or engaging in any activity, enterprise, profession, or occupation for gain, benefit, advantage, or livelihood, whether for profit or not for profit, including but not limited to corporations, limited liability companies, limited partnerships, or limited liability partnerships.
“Employee”: an individual who is considered an employee under section 148B of this chapter; provided, however, that the term “employee”, as used in this chapter, shall also include independent contractors under section 148B.
“Forfeiture agreement”: an agreement that imposes adverse financial consequences on a former employee as a result of the termination of an employment relationship, regardless of whether the employee engages in competitive activities following cessation of the employment relationship. Forfeiture agreements do not include forfeiture for competition agreements.
“Forfeiture for competition agreement”: an agreement that by its terms or through the manner in which it is enforced imposes adverse financial consequences on a former employee as a result of the termination of an employment relationship if the employee engages in competitive activities.
“Garden leave clause”: a provision within a noncompetition agreement by which an employer agrees to pay the employee during the restricted period, provided that such provision shall become effective upon termination of employment unless the restriction upon post-employment activities are waived by the employer or ineffective under subsection (c) (iii).
“Noncompetition agreement”: an agreement between an employer and an employee, or otherwise arising out of an existing or anticipated employment relationship, under which the employee or expected employee agrees that he or she will not engage in certain specified activities competitive with his or her employer after the employment relationship has ended. Noncompetition agreements include forfeiture for competition agreements, but do not include (i) covenants not to solicit or hire employees of the employer; (ii) covenants not to solicit or transact business with customers, clients, or vendors of the employer; (iii) noncompetition agreements made in connection with the sale of a business entity or substantially all of the operating assets of a business entity or partnership, or otherwise disposing of the ownership interest of a business entity or partnership (or division or subsidiary thereof), when the party restricted by the noncompetition agreement is a significant owner of, or member or partner in, the business entity who will receive significant consideration or benefit from the sale or disposal; (iv) noncompetition agreements outside of an employment relationship; (v) forfeiture agreements; (vi) nondisclosure or confidentiality agreements; (vii) invention assignment agreements; (viii) garden leave clauses; (ix) noncompetition agreements made in connection with the cessation of or separation from employment if the employee is expressly given seven business days to rescind acceptance; or (x) agreements by which an employee agrees to not reapply for employment to the same employer after termination of the employee.
“Restricted period”: the period of time after the date of cessation of employment during which an employee is restricted by a noncompetition agreement from engaging in activities competitive with his or her employer.
(b) To be valid and enforceable, a noncompetition agreement must meet the minimum requirements of subsections (i) through (viii) hereof.
(i) If the agreement is entered into in connection with the commencement of employment, it must be in writing and signed by both the employer and employee and expressly state that the employee has the right to consult with counsel prior to signing. The agreement must be provided to the employee by the earlier of a formal offer of employment or 10 business days before the commencement of the employee’s employment.
(ii) If the agreement is entered into after commencement of employment but not in connection with the separation from employment, it must be supported by fair and reasonable consideration independent from the continuation of employment, and notice of the agreement must be provided at least 10 business days before the agreement is to be effective. Moreover, the agreement must be in writing and signed by both the employer and employee and expressly state that the employee has the right to consult with counsel prior to signing.
(iii) The agreement must be no broader than necessary to protect one or more of the following legitimate business interests of the employer: (A) the employer’s trade secrets, as that term is defined in section 1 of chapter 93L; (B) the employer’s confidential information that otherwise would not qualify as a trade secret; or (C) the employer’s goodwill. A noncompetition agreement may be presumed necessary where the legitimate business interest cannot be adequately protected through an alternative restrictive covenant, including but not limited to a non-solicitation agreement or a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement.
(iv) In no event may the stated restricted period exceed 12 months from the date of cessation of employment, unless the employee has breached his or her fiduciary duty to the employer or the employee has unlawfully taken, physically or electronically, property belonging to the employer, in which case the duration may not exceed 2 years from the date of cessation of employment.
(v) The agreement must be reasonable in geographic reach in relation to the interests protected. A geographic reach that is limited to only the geographic areas in which the employee, during any time within the last 2 years of employment, provided services or had a material presence or influence is presumptively reasonable.
(vi) The agreement must be reasonable in the scope of proscribed activities in relation to the interests protected. A restriction on activities that protects a legitimate business interest and is limited to only the specific types of services provided by the employee at any time during the last 2 years of employment is presumptively reasonable.
(vii) The noncompetition agreement shall be supported by a garden leave clause or other mutually-agreed upon consideration between the employer and the employee, provided that such consideration is specified in the noncompetition agreement To constitute a garden leave clause within the meaning of this section, the agreement must (i) provide for the payment, consistent with the requirements for the payment of wages under section 148 of chapter 149 of the general laws, on a pro-rata basis during the entirety of the restricted period, of at least 50 percent of the employee’s highest annualized base salary paid by the employer within the 2 years preceding the employee’s termination; and (ii) except in the event of a breach by the employee, not permit an employer to unilaterally discontinue or otherwise fail or refuse to make the payments; provided, however, if the restricted period has been increased beyond 12 months as a result of the employee’s breach of a fiduciary duty to the employer or the employee has unlawfully taken, physically or electronically, property belonging to the employer, the employer shall not be required to provide payments to the employee during the extension of the restricted period.
(viii) The agreement must be consonant with public policy.
(c) A noncompetition agreement shall not be enforceable against the following types of workers: (i) an employee who is classified as nonexempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. 201-219; (ii) undergraduate or graduate students that partake in an internship or otherwise enter a short-term employment relationship with an employer, whether paid or unpaid, while enrolled in a full-time or part-time undergraduate or graduate educational institution; (iii) employees that have been terminated without cause or laid off; or (iv) employees age 18 or younger. This section does not render void or unenforceable the remainder of the contract or agreement containing the unenforceable noncompetition agreement, nor does it preclude the imposition of a noncompetition restriction by a court, whether through preliminary or permanent injunctive relief or otherwise, as a remedy for a breach of another agreement or a statutory or common law duty.
(d) A court may, in its discretion, reform or otherwise revise a noncompetition agreement so as to render it valid and enforceable to the extent necessary to protect the applicable legitimate business interests.
(e) No choice of law provision that would have the effect of avoiding the requirements of this section will be enforceable if the employee is, and has been for at least 30 days immediately preceding his or her cessation of employment, a resident of or employed in Massachusetts at the time of his or her termination of employment.
(f) All civil actions relating to employee noncompetition agreements subject to this section shall be brought in the county where the employee resides or, if mutually agreed upon by the employer and employee, in Suffolk County; provided that, in any such action brought in Suffolk County, the superior court or the business litigation session of the superior court shall have exclusive jurisdiction.
SECTION 4. Section 3 may be referred to as the Massachusetts Noncompetition Agreement Act and shall apply to employee noncompetition agreements entered into on or after October 1, 2018.
SECTION 5. Section 2 of this Act shall take effect on October 1, 2018, and shall not apply to misappropriation occurring prior to the effective date. With respect to a continuing misappropriation that began prior to the effective date, the Act also does not apply to the continuing misappropriation that occurs after the effective date.Download PDF