March 28, 2023
State attorneys general are on the front lines of protecting consumers across the country. They are constantly considering how various laws and business practices impact consumers’ rights and their bottom lines. That is why when 28 bipartisan attorneys general from across the country join together to fight for consumer rights, policymakers should listen.
In a recent letter to the letter to the leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Senate Commerce Committee, the attorneys general call out the need for federal Right-to-Repair legislation. The letter states in part: “The Right-to-Repair is a bipartisan issue that impacts every consumer, household, and farm in a time of increasing inflation. It is about ensuring that consumers have choices as to who, where, when and at what cost their vehicles can be repaired. It is about ensuring small automobile businesses and ‘mom-and-pop’ auto shops can remain competitive against a closed system favored by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).” The letter can be read in full HERE.
Specifically, they urge Congress to consider and approve two pieces of legislation focused on consumer rights in the post-collision auto repair market – the bipartisan SMART and REPAIR Acts. These bipartisan measures are focused on ensuring consumers have choices and rights when it comes to repairing their vehicles.
The “Save Money on Auto Repair Transportation SMART Act” (H.R. 1707) will put an end to automakers’ unfair use of patents by reducing from 15 years to 2.5 years the time that automakers can enforce design patents against alternative parts manufacturers on collision repair parts, including common parts such as side mirrors, quarter panels and bumpers. The “Right to Equitable and Professional Auto Industry Repair (REPAIR) Act” (H.R. 906) will ensure consumers have access to their car’s data and the repair tools needed to maintain modern cars.
According to recent research from the CAR Coalition and DePaul University College of Law, anti-competitive practices from automakers cost American consumers more than $1.5 billion per year in higher auto repairs. In an era of continuing inflation, consumers need relief. The SMART and REPAIR Acts will help achieve this.
As chief consumer protection and antitrust enforcers, attorneys general are well aware of the pressure of rising prices on the people in their states. Their call for swift federal legislation is critical to protecting consumers’ right to repair the products they purchase – restoring choice to the repair process, increasing competition, and lowering costs. There is growing bipartisan consensus in Congress on these issues too. The time to act is now.