The CAR Coalition, a growing group of independent parts, management and repair companies, associations and insurers committed to preserving consumer choice and affordable vehicle repairs, has strongly supported the SMART Act (Save Money on Auto Repair Transportation) presented to the House of Representatives this week.
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The CAR Coalition says the legislation, which is championed by Congressman Darrell Issa (CA-50), a leading member of the Courts, Intellectual Property and Internet Subcommittee on the Judiciary Committee of the Chamber, will reduce post-collision auto costs. repairs and insurance for consumers. The original co-sponsors of the bipartite legislation are Reps Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Stephen Cohen (TN-9), Scott Perry (PA-10), Dave Joyce (OH-14) and Sheila Jackson Lee (TX- 18).
“The CAR Coalition strongly supports the SMART Act,” said Justin Rzepka, executive director of the CAR Coalition. “This bipartisan legislation will give vehicle owners more – not less – choice when it comes to repairing their cars. By restoring balance in the patent process, the SMART Act will benefit consumers rather than businesses. Our members applaud the leadership of Congressman Issa and the bipartisan group of members who are working on this important measure. “
According to Congressman Issa’s office, the SMART Act will expand consumer choice in auto spare parts, lower costs for drivers and insurers, and increase competition in the auto aftermarket. Specifically, the legislation tightly amends the United States Design Patent Law to reduce from 14 years to 2.5 years the length of time that automakers can apply design patents on crash repair parts (fenders, panels, rear quarter panel, doors, etc.) against suppliers of alternative parts. The current patent term prevents aftermarket manufacturers from making or selling external crash repair parts, which the CAR Coalition says increases repair costs by limiting consumer choice and crowding out competition. resulting in higher insurance rates and costs. Under the SMART Act, it would not be an act of infringement for another parts supplier to sell an aftermarket replacement part after 2.5 years from the date of the patent. The law would also allow other parts suppliers to research, develop, manufacture and test parts not intended for sale during the new patent term. The law would not change the 14-year period during which automakers can assert design patents against other automakers; this would only impact aftermarket spare parts.
The SMART Act is supported by: Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety Coalition, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC), CARE, Retiresafe, CFA, American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA), Automotive Body Parts Association (ABPA), Autocare, LKQ, Autozone and AARP.
For more information on the CAR Coalition, visit carcoalition.com.