May 23, 2013—The Automotive Service Association (ASA) has joined a coalition of auto manufacturers, dealerships, labor unions and other trade associations in opposition of the Promoting Automotive Repair, Trade and Sales (PARTS) Act.
The proposed legislation would amend the current U.S. design patent law by reducing the time period when auto manufacturers are able to enforce design patents on auto parts against alternative suppliers from 14 years to 30 months. Before the enforcement period ends, alternative parts suppliers could manufacture, test, market and distribute alternative parts pre-sale without infringing on design patents.
U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee members Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and U.S. House Judiciary Committee members Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) reintroduced the bill in April.
The ASA has sent a letter to Howard Coble (R-N.C.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet, and Mel Watt (D-N.C.), ranking member of the committee, asking that they oppose the bill.
“Manufacturers of unlicensed automobile parts have to meet only one basic threshold, to produce a copy that passes off as an original part,” the ASA said in the letter. “Those who produce such parts incur no costs attributable to original design, research and development, and most importantly, product safety testing. Accordingly, the manufacturer of the original product for whom such unlicensed replacement parts are made does not know how these parts will perform with the rest of the vehicle and how their use will impact the quality and integrity of the original product. Automotive collision repairers are very concerned about the quality of replacement crash parts. Permitting this intellectual property infringement also exposes consumers to significant safety, performance or durability risks without their knowledge.”
To view the full text of the legislation, visit takingthehill.com.