The Quality Parts Coalition (QPC) has announced its support for collision repair parts legislation introduced February 2 by U.S. House Judiciary Committee Members Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.). The QPC urges quick passage of the bill by the House Judiciary Committee in early 2012 and is looking forward to working with members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to introduce a companion bill very soon.
The new House bill – Promoting Automotive Repair, Trade, and Sales (PARTS) Act – would amend section 271 of title 35 of current U.S. design patent law, reducing from 14 to 2.5 years the period during which car companies can enforce their design patents on collision repair parts against alternative suppliers. The period for such enforcement would begin upon the first offer for sale of the car model containing the design patented part in any country. This amendment would enable relatively quick access to affordable substitutions for American car owners. Australia and a number of European countries have already passed similar repair clause laws.
“The Quality Parts Coalition praises U.S. Representatives Issa and Lofgren for their leadership in protecting the rights of American drivers,” said Eileen Sottile, executive director of the QPC. “We urge Congress to pass this bill so that consumers can continue to have access to affordable, quality alternative replacement parts.”
According to the QPC, American consumers have benefited from the availability of quality, lower-cost alternative auto replacement parts to repair their damaged vehicles for more than 60 years. On average, competition in the collision parts industry saves consumers approximately $1.5 billion a year, according to economists at the Microeconomic Consulting & Research Associates. But car companies, which control more than 72 percent of the market, are trying to block competition. They are getting and enforcing design patents against the alternative collision parts industry – at the expense of consumers and businesses. If they succeed, American car owners will be left with very limited options and added costs and insurance premiums when repairing their vehicles. If Congress does not act, many older and lower-income Americans will also end up paying higher prices for parts and insurance premiums or will forgo repairing their vehicles all together. In some cases, the higher cost would lead to insurance companies declaring more damaged vehicles as “total wrecks.” As a result, these consumers may be forced to replace a repairable vehicle with a new car – a purchase that for many is not feasible.
The QPC has launched a “Write Congress” widget on its website – powered by award-winning e-advocacy company POPVOX – to encourage consumers, seniors and industry leaders to tell Congress they support this bill.