The Automotive Parts and Service Association (APSA) of Illinois today joined the Quality Parts Coalition (QPC) in support of H.R. 5638, sponsored by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.). Introduced in March 2008, the bill would amend Title 35, U.S. Code (Patents) to provide design patent exemption for alternative repair parts used for the purpose of repairing a vehicle to its original appearance.
The QPC was created in early 2007 in response to a Section 337 case filed by Ford Global Technologies with the International Trade Commission (ITC) against manufacturers and U.S. distributors of auto exterior repair parts on the Ford F-150, which resulted in a general exclusion order prohibiting the importation of certain aftermarket parts that infringe on patents of seven exterior Ford F-150 repair parts. With that decision currently under appeal, Ford Global Technologies filed a second suit, targeting 2005 Ford Mustang replacement parts, on May 2, 2008.
“With Ford’s apparent push to monopolize the automotive collision parts market, it’s now more important than ever that Congress adopt Rep. Lofgren’s bill to protect consumers from unwarranted and illegal monopolies,” said Eileen A. Sottile, executive director of the QPC. “APSA of Illinois, along with the QPC, recognizes that this drive to create a second monopoly in collision repair parts is an attempt by car manufacturers, already reeling from a tough economy, to increase their own revenues at the detriment of the consumer. Rep. Lofgren’s introduction of H.R. 5638 is a permanent legislative solution that will protect owners of every automobile make and model.”
“Design patents are intended to protect the overall innovation of an automobile, not to provide an avenue for big automakers to impose a monopoly and remove incentive to keep costs low and quality high on the aftermarket collision parts market,” said Matt Wells, executive vice president of APSA of Illinois. “Rep. Lofgren’s bill will protect the tradition of competition in the alternative aftermarket collision parts industry that has provided a quality choice when repairing a crashed vehicle for more than 60 years.”
For more information, visit www.apsail.com and www.qualitypartscoalition.com.