Industry Association (AAIA) has called on Congress to support H.R.
5638, legislation that would amend federal patent law to provide an
exception from design patent infringement for alternative repair parts
used for the purpose of restoring a vehicle to its original appearance.
The bill was introduced by Representative Zoe Lofgren (Calif.-16).
Car companies’ use of design patents to restrict availability of
competitive collision replacement parts is a threat to the automotive
aftermarket, according to AAIA. Over the past five years, the number of
design patents awarded to the major automobile manufacturers has
dramatically increased collision parts now account for 50 to 93
percent of U.S. design patents awarded to car companies. For example, a
ruling by the International Trade Commission (ITC) effectively
eliminates alternative options for seven replacement collision parts on
Ford F-150 pickup trucks.
"Unless Congress intercedes by adopting H.R. 5638, the ITC
decision, in combination with the dramatic increase in design patents
granted to car companies, could allow automakers to gradually eliminate
the entire alternative collision replacement parts industry," said
Kathleen Schmatz, AAIA president and CEO. "While automakers have their
sights set on collision repair parts today, this effort could easily be
expanded to mechanical parts if the strategy is successful."