White House Holds Round Table Discussion on Right to Repair Efforts

Hosted by the National Economic Council, the event focused on how OEMs’ increasing use of repair restrictions, like patent abuse, hurt small businesses and consumers alike.

Written by Autobody News Staff
Oct. 25, 2023

State legislative leaders and industry representatives from around the U.S. convened at the White House on Oct. 24 to discuss how to ensure consumers retain the right to repair what they own, including their vehicles.

The discussion, hosted by the National Economic Council, focused on how original manufacturers’ increasing use of repair restrictions, like patent abuse, hurt small businesses and consumers alike.

“From smartphones to wheelchairs to cars to farm equipment, too often manufacturers make it difficult to access spare parts, manuals and tools necessary to make fixes,” said Lael Brainard, director of the NEC. “So it doesn’t only cost consumers money, but it also prevents independent repair shops from competing in this business and it creates unnecessary waste from reducing the lifespan of these devices.”

Representing automotive repairers in the discussion was Don Jones, senior vice president at Allstate and a member of the CAR Coalition.

Jones talked about how bipartisan bills like Save Money on Auto Repair Transportation (SMART) and Right to Equitable and Professional Auto Industry Repair (REPAIR) acts would increase consumer choice and promote a healthy car repair market for vehicle owners.

“One way to increase consumer choice is to bolster aftermarket part manufacturing,” Jones said. “Unfortunately, the manufacturing of aftermarket parts has been severely limited due to OEM use of design patents on basic cosmetic car parts.

"The good news is, there is a solution,” Jones continued. “Simply, the bipartisan SMART Act will provide customers with increased options and choice---saving them money and potentially getting their vehicle repaired more quickly.”

Jones said it has become increasingly difficult for independent repair shops to service newer vehicles with more advanced technology without the same wireless access to car data that dealers have.

“The REPAIR Act, another bill with broad bipartisan support, would promote consumer choice by allowing car owners to wirelessly access and securely share their own vehicle-generated data with independent repair facilities of their choosing,” he said.

Justin Rzepka, executive director of the CAR Coalition, said the event was a “welcome sign of the growing bipartisan support for enacting national right to repair protections.”

“Nationwide, consumers want more affordable repair options---not less,” Rzepka said. “As car repair prices continue to climb, bipartisan federal legislation, like the SMART and REPAIR Acts, would bring much-needed relief to American consumers and small businesses alike.”

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