In the realm of business agreements, noncompete clauses have long been a subject of scrutiny and debate. These contractual provisions restrict individuals from working for or starting a competing business within a specified time frame and geographical area after leaving their current employment. While the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has taken steps to limit the application of noncompetes with its recent ban, one area where they still hold sway is in the franchise industry.

Franchise Noncompetes: An Exception to the Rule

Despite the FTC’s efforts to limit the scope of noncompete agreements, one area where these clauses remain prevalent is within franchise agreements. Franchisors often include noncompete provisions in their contracts with franchisees to protect their brand, goodwill, and proprietary business methods.

Unlike in the realm of traditional employment contracts, where the FTC’s noncompete ban holds sway, franchise noncompetes are not included in these restrictions. This exemption is based on the rationale that franchise agreements involve a different set of considerations than typical employment relationships. Franchisees invest substantial resources into establishing and operating their businesses under the franchisor’s brand, and noncompete clauses serve to protect the franchisor’s investment in the franchise system as a whole.

Navigating Franchise Noncompetes: Considerations for Franchisees

For aspiring entrepreneurs considering entering into a franchise agreement, understanding the implications of the included noncompete clause is crucial. Here are some key considerations:

  1. Scope and Duration: Pay close attention to the scope and duration of the noncompete clause. Ensure that the restrictions imposed are reasonable and necessary to protect the legitimate interests of the franchisor.
  2. Geographical Limitations: The noncompete clause should specify the geographic area within which the franchisee is prohibited from competing. Ensure that these limitations are tailored to the specific market served by the franchise and do not unduly restrict future business opportunities.
  3. Legal Review: Before signing any franchise agreement, it’s advisable to seek legal counsel to review the terms and conditions, including the noncompete clause. A qualified attorney can help assess the enforceability of the provision and negotiate any necessary modifications.
  4. Alternative Options: In rare cases, franchisees may be able to negotiate the removal or modification of the noncompete clause altogether. Alternatively, they may explore franchise opportunities with less restrictive noncompete provisions or consider independent business ventures that offer greater flexibility.


While the FTC’s ban on noncompete clauses in employment contracts represents a significant step towards promoting competition and worker mobility, it’s important to recognize that franchise agreements operate within a different legal framework. Franchise noncompetes remain a common feature of these contracts, designed to protect the interests of both franchisors and franchisees. Aspiring franchisees should carefully review and consider the implications of these clauses before committing to a franchise opportunity, seeking legal guidance as needed to ensure a clear understanding of their rights and obligations.