A report has surfaced today that the Quality Parts Coalition (QPC) is lobbying Congress to include a “repair” clause or exemption in U.S. design patent law to protect competition and allow lower consumer costs for collision repairs.
The QPC claims that car companies control more than 73 percent of the repair parts market, resulting in limited choices and increased costs to consumers. The QPC also claims that "shutting out" competition in the auto parts market would further increase costs to consumers as well as insurance companies by roughly $1 billion each year.
Last July, the QPC, along with numerous other trade organizations (Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Center for Auto Safety, Consumer Federation of America and Public Citizen) sent an open letter to lawmakers, stating that
"If the auto industry is allowed to continue their efforts to patent the design of these parts, crash-repair bills will significantly increase, quality will suffer in the absence of real competition, and safety will be compromised as families are forced to forego necessary repairs because of the high cost of replacement parts."The letter added that an amendment to patent law should allow using an alternative repair part to restore a product to its "original appearance," without violating patents that protect manufacturers from rivals who would copy their designs.
Read press release from QPC here (link)
Read related economic study "Estimation of Benefits to Consumers from Competition in the Market for Automotive Parts" (link)
Read article from Market Watch "Protect drivers from high-cost car parts, Congress urged" (link)