Déjà vu ain't what it used to be .... a right to repair bill has once more been introduced into the US House of Representatives. It is known as the “Promoting Automotive Repair, Trade, and Sales” (PARTS) Act, HR 3839 (IH). Catchy, huh? The full text is here.
Sponsoring Representative Zoe Lofgren, whose preternaturally Sisyphean patience you have to admire if nothing else, has been trying to get something like this through since at least 2003 as is shown on her record. We reported on the last or last-but-one attempt back here, in 2010. Will this push succeed where all others failed? Comments from the US welcome.
Briefly, the Bill would create an EU-style right for third parties to make, import, sell and use spare parts without infringing design patents. However, unlike the EU, it would give the automakers a 30 month exclusivity period before selling and using the parts became legal. That is a lot less than the five year exclusivity period you get under UK Unregistered Design Right law, but most parts aren't protected by those rights anyway because of the UK's "must-fit" and "must-match" exclusions.
30 months is probably economically insignificant to the automakers - a small proportion of the economic life of car models and design patents, and nowadays most cars (yes, even American ones) don't start to fail that soon, so we are talking only about crash repairs here. But something like that might be the starting point for a compromise equally unpalatable to both sides and therefore perhaps acceptable. If it can be sold in the US, perhaps it could be used as an icebreaker for the long-stalled EU spare part negotiations. But don't hold your breaths!
If you feel passionately pro-the bill, here's a link to the Quality Parts Coalition's Facebook petition. Or if your sympathies lie with Detroit (and it is certainly in need of sympathy), here is a link to some comments by Kelly Burris of Brinks Hofer about the impact on automakers.
22 hours ago