Yesterday Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA 49) introduced legislation to expand consumer choice, cut costs paid by insurers and drivers, and ensure competition in the automobile replacement part market. The legislation is cosponsored by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA 16); both representatives serve on the House Judiciary Committee.
Known as the Promoting Automotive Repair, Trade, and Sales (PARTS) Act, the bill will set a two-and-a-half year boundary on the exclusivity period for automotive design patents related to so-called alternatively supplied parts and equipment. During this patent protection period, manufacturers of these parts could conduct testing, research and development on a not-for-sale basis without infringing on the patents of the original manufacturer.
Auto manufacturers and original parts suppliers currently hold a 14-year exclusivity period for collision repair parts, thereby limiting consumer choices and competition.
"Competition is the hallmark of our free market system," Rep. Issa said. "Consumers have dozens of choices in electronics, food, service, clothing and other products--this same array of choices, across all price points, should also extend to automotive repair parts."