WASHINGTON (February 2, 2012) – Legislation introduced today to preserve a competitive market for cosmetic auto repair parts will ensure that consumers have more choices and lower costs, according to the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC).
“Competition is the best form of consumer protection against excessive prices, and the vibrant aftermarket parts industry in this country has provided it for decades.” said Jimi Grande, senior vice president of federal and political affairs for NAMIC. “Without this legislation, more and more patents will be filed and competition for aftermarket parts will dwindle, removing options for consumers and increasing their costs.”
Introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who chairs the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet, and Subcommittee member Rep. Lofgren (D-CA), the "Promoting Automotive Repair, Trade, and Sales" (PARTS) Act would limit the design patent on an auto repair part to two and a half years, barring sales of a competitive product while allowing for competitors to design, manufacture and advertise their own versions during that time period.
“The patent system established by Reps. Issa and Lofgren’s bill maintains the incentive for auto manufacturers to be innovative in their parts designs,” Grande said. “But it also recognizes the importance of market competition which reduces costs for consumers who rely on their cars to get to work or take their children to school.”
A 2010 study by NAMIC found that elimination of competition for repair parts could increase the average annual insurance premium for an automobile by as much as $109. Cosmetic aftermarket repair parts can cost as much as 50 percent less than those made by the original manufacturer, and have no bearing on safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has said that the use of such parts is “irrelevant” to the crash-worthiness of a vehicle.
“These parts exist solely to make a vehicle look the same after a crash as it did before,” Grande said. “Consumers should not be denied a choice for these parts or forced to pay higher prices.”
Contact: Matt Brady
Director of Media Relations
Posted: Thursday, February 02, 2012 5:25:22 PM. Modified: Thursday, February 02, 2012 5:40:38 PM.
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