Antitrust Significance of Covenants Not To Compete

Covenants not to compete, despite their increasing prevalence and their obvious tendency to restrain competition, have seldom been attacked under either federal or state antitrust laws. In January 1965, however, William H. Orrick, Jr., then Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Antitrust Division, noted that the Division was becoming concerned about one aspect of the problem-the taking of overbroad covenants not to compete in connection with the purchase of a competitor. He suggested that such an agreement might have anticompetitive effects under either the Sherman Act or section 7 of the Clayton Act. This note will explore the present status of covenants not to compete under both state and federal antitrust laws and will suggest a basis for the future development of the law.