As automotive manufacturers continue to lose their grip on patents associated with the production of auto parts, it would seem that another movement in Congress could land a decisive blow in favor of aftermarket parts companies. H.R. 1663, otherwise known as the Promoting Automotive Repair, Trade, and Sales Act of 2013 (PARTS), was brought before Congress on April 23, 2013.
This bill, which is supported by representatives on BOTH sides of the proverbial aisle (how often do we see that these days?), is also receiving important backing from the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA).
The PARTS Act involves the amount of exclusivity that automakers have, in terms of patents, on the parts associated with new model releases. As of now, repair part patents can last up to 14 years before other companies have access to the design specifications. However, if this bill gets through, that time frame would be reduced to less than 3 years. And, during this window, other manufacturers could begin testing and developing parts, readying them for sale once the exclusivity window expires.
As the cost of vehicle ownership continues to increase, the introduction, and subsequent support, of this bill is welcomed news for families across the country. As Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) mentioned to the AAIA (per their website):
“The decision to purchase an automobile is one of the biggest investments a family makes. 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.”
Increasing competition within the auto parts industry will only benefit consumers, and while there is still a long way to go, the PARTS Act is a great start!