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PCI supportive of proposed PARTS Act

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Feb. 6, 2012—The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) last week expressed its support of the Promoting Automotive Repair, Trade, and Sales (PARTS) Act.

The PCI said the proposed bill—H.R. 3889—which was introduced by House Judiciary Committee members Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), will benefit consumers and provide greater availability and competition in the automotive collision repair parts market by preventing car company monopolies on repair parts. The bill proposes to amend section 271 of title 35 of the current U.S. design patent law, which would reduce the amount of time when auto manufacturers can enforce part design patents against alternative suppliers from 14 years to 30 months.

"We strongly support the PARTS Act legislation introduced today in the House," said Ben McKay, senior vice president of federal government relations for PCI. "This bill will change the U.S. design patent law to preserve competition and protect consumers' right to access quality, low-cost alternative collision repair parts.”

PCI release_notesd the following information regarding the importance of competition in the crash parts market:

• In 2010, PCI estimated that the availability of quality competitive replacement parts saved consumers more than $2.2 billion in insurance costs.
• Alternative collision repair parts are 26 to 50 percent less expensive compared to parts issued by automobile companies, and often have longer warranties.
• The availability of quality alternative collision parts leads to fewer delays in repairs, which gets vehicles back on the road faster.
• The elimination of quality collision repair parts as a viable option for consumers could result in higher repair costs that could increase insurance premiums.
• The alternative collision repair parts industry provides thousands of U.S. jobs across the country, and has operations in all 50 states.

PCI said major vehicle manufacturers control more than 72 percent of the collision parts market, and have more than doubled their existing design patents since 2005. PCI is currently working with the Quality Parts Coalition (QPC) and members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to introduce a companion bill later this year.

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