Published on August 13th 2021 in

SCRS opposes OEM design patent legislation on collision repair parts

The Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) has announced that it objects to the US Save Money on Auto Repair Transportation (SMART) Act that was introduced in June seeking to limit vehicle manufacturer design patents for collision repair parts.

According to a press release: “The small businesses we represent want to perform safe and proper repairs, that allow us to place our customers and their families back into a repaired vehicle with confidence that it will continue to provide the safety they expected from it, prior to their collision. Parts selection is a critical part of a safe and proper repair and collision repair businesses have simply learned through first-hand experience that reverse engineered imitation parts are not the same as parts made and distributed by the OEM.”

The bill proposes to reduce the length of time exterior collision repair parts, such as a hood, fender, taillight, side mirror or quarter panel are protected by design patents for use in the aftermarket to 30 months from when they are first made available to sale from the current 14 years under existing design patent law. The proposed legislation would leave in place restrictions prohibiting other vehicle manufacturers from copying parts covered by design patents.

“Analysis of very similar proposals had previously left representatives sceptical of the merits of cutting patent rights for a single industry,” said Bruce Halcro, SCRS Chairman. “In fact, the hearings over substantially similar proposals in the past established that it would take a major leap of faith to assume that allowing aftermarket manufacturers to copy OEM collision replacement parts sooner would actually yield savings from insurers that would actually be passed on to consumers.”

“There are no universal standards in the replacement industry that all parts must meet,” added Aaron Schulenburg, SCRS Executive Director. “Working day in and day out on collision repairs, the shops we represent have first hand knowledge of the wide spectrum of part quality found in the marketplace. Conducting a repair with all OEM parts makes the repairs go faster, while often, imitation parts – while cheaper on paper – fail to fit, take additional time and labour to either manipulate the part or wait to receive a better-quality solution. When parts are so ill-fitting that shops are forced to return the product and wait for a replacement, it negates the perceived benefit of using a cheaper part, not to mention raises concerns over whether those parts would have restored the safety and value of the consumer’s vehicle.”

“There are no universal standards in the replacement industry that all parts must meet,” added Aaron Schulenburg, SCRS Executive Director.

“Working day in and day out on collision repairs, the shops we represent have first hand knowledge of the wide spectrum of part quality found in the marketplace. Conducting a repair with all OEM parts makes the repairs go faster, while often, imitation parts – while cheaper on paper – fail to fit, take additional time and labour to either manipulate the part or wait to receive a better-quality solution.

When parts are so ill-fitting that shops are forced to return the product and wait for a replacement, it negates the perceived benefit of using a cheaper part, not to mention raises concerns over whether those parts would have restored the safety and value of the consumer’s vehicle.”

NCR SCRS Aaron

This article courtesy of Russell Thrall III, publisher CollisionWeek. Check out their website at: www.collisionweek.com.

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