A panel of judges at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit heard oral arguments on Feb. 5 in the appeal of a 2006 International Trade Commission (ITC) ruling that prevents aftermarket parts manufacturers from duplicating several parts on 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 Ford F-150 models.
In Dec. 2005, Ford Global Technologies (“Ford”) filed a Section 337 complaint with the ITC, alleging that certain collision parts manufacturers and distributors had infringed on patents for 14 parts for the Ford F-150. In June 2006, the ITC issued a general exclusion order on seven of those 14 parts.
In May 2008, Ford filed another brief with the ITC against manufacturers and U.S. distributors of collision repair parts for certain exterior parts for the 2005 Ford Mustang (click HERE to read more).
The Quality Parts Coalition (QPC) opposes Ford’s actions and believes that car manufacturers may be attempting to drive out competitors in the parts marketplace to secure a monopoly on collision replacement parts. It claims that, since 2005, the number of design patents (granted to those who invent a new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture) held by car companies has more than doubled.
The QPC says it’s working to secure a legislative solution to prevent car companies from blocking competition in the market.
“Repealing this precedent-setting general exclusion order is more important than ever,” said Eileen A. Sottile, QPC executive director. “Unless Congress intervenes, Americans may also see freedom of choice disappear and parts prices and insurance premiums soar in the near future.”
Last year, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., introduced "repair clause legislation” (H.R. 5638) that would have created an exemption for design patent infringement liability for component parts. The clause, which was tagged to an intellectual property bill in the Senate, did not pass (click HERE to read more). Similar legislation has been enacted in several countries, such as Australia, and has gained approval in the European Union (EU) Parliament.