Today, House Judiciary Committee members Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), and Senate Judiciary Committee members Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced H.R. 1663, Promoting Automotive Repair, Trade and Sales Act of 2013 (PARTS), a bipartisan bill which would expand consumer choice for automobile collision repair parts, cut costs paid by insurers and drivers, and ensure competition in the automobile repair parts market.
The PARTS Act amends U.S. design patent law to reduce the exclusivity period car companies hold on design patents for collision repair parts from 14 years to 30 months (or two-and-a-half years) during which time other suppliers could test, research and develop parts on a not-for-sale basis. The current 14-year design patent monopoly prevents aftermarket manufacturers from making or selling external collision repair parts, driving up costs by limiting consumer choice, crowding out competition leading to higher insurance rates and fees.
"The decision to purchase an automobile is one of the biggest investments a family makes," Rep. Issa said. "With the average sticker price of a new car now exceeding $30,000 and repair costs continuing to rise, hardworking American families deserve access to as many repair part options as possible. The PARTS Act will not only increase consumer choice therefore reducing aftermarket costs but encourage innovation and competition among other aftermarket parts manufacturers."
"This bipartisan bill is aimed at helping Americans who depend on their cars to be safe, reliable and on the road so they can get their kids to school and drive to work every day," Rep. Lofgren said. "By increasing fair competition in the auto parts market, consumers will ultimately benefit by getting the best value for their dollar when they need to shop for safe, high quality replacement car parts to keep their cars running."
"Having to replace a car part is frustrating enough; drivers shouldn't have to pay artificially high prices set by car manufacturers," Sen. Whitehouse said. "This bill will preserve competition in the car-parts market and ultimately allow consumers to get safe replacement parts at lower prices."
"The PARTS Act keeps competition in the marketplace, ensuring that consumers have access to affordable parts they need for their vehicles," Sen. Hatch said. "I'm hopeful we can get this legislation passed by the House and Senate and signed into law soon."
The PARTS Act, introduced today, mirrors legislation introduced by Reps. Darrell Issa and Zoe Lofgren in the 112th Congress. It would take effect 90 days after enactment and apply to design patents issued prior to, on, and after the date of enactment.