Issues

Right to repair legislation, like the SMART Act, limits unfair repair restrictions that restrict consumer choice.

When it comes to repairing their cars, some Americans prefer quality parts from independent manufacturers because they are affordable. Others like that parts from these alternative suppliers can be more sustainable. Still, others like that alternative parts are recommended by their trusted auto body shops.

No matter why Americans prefer alternative parts, what matters is that they should have a choice.

Choice gives consumers freedom to make decisions that are best for them, and it drives competition that lowers costs, fosters innovation and creates jobs.

Alarmingly, repair restrictions on cars and other items have been skyrocketing in recent years. Part of this is due to original manufacturers’ restrictions on data. And some of it is due to the fact that manufacturers have been increasingly misusing design patents to crowd out competitors in the marketplace.

All of this has contributed to rapid price increases for repairs. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, vehicle repair costs are up more than 60% since 2000.

Right to repair is a growing, consumers-first movement in Washington and across the states to protect Americans’ ability to choose how to fix and maintain the products they purchase. The SMART Act (H.R. 3664) is one critical measure in this push. It will put a stop to design patent misuse and allow independent parts manufacturers to offer consumers quality, affordable options for basic car components – like mirrors, fenders, and doors.

BY THE NUMBERS
PATENT ABUSE

250%

INCREASE

Automakers have drastically increased the number of design patents they’ve applied for over the past 20 years – roughly 250% in at least one case.

156%

INCREASE

From 2000-2019, design patent applications increased by 156% outpacing the 73% growth in utility patent applications.

AFTERMARKET PARTS INDUSTRY

40K

BODYSHOPS

Aftermarket auto parts support the livelihood of more than 40,000 body shops nationwide.

4.7M

JOBS

The U.S. automotive aftermarket industry generates approximately $400 billion in annual revenue and employs more than 4.7 million people.

15-50%

LESS EXPENSIVE

For more than 60 years, the aftermarket parts industry has been offering quality aftermarket auto parts to consumers, typically 15-50% less expensive than non-patented repair parts from automakers.

INDEPENDENT AUTO REPAIR
75%

OF AFTERMARKET AUTO REPAIRS

Independent auto repair shops perform 75% of aftermarket auto repairs, while only 25% are performed by dealerships.

91%

OF INDEPENDENT AUTO REPAIR SHOPS

In 2020, 91% of independent auto repair shops reported a decrease in revenue.

FOOTNOTES

  1. Patent Technology Monitoring System (PTMT), “U.S. Patent Statistics Chart Calendar Years 1963 – 2020,” U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, May 2021,

    https://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/ido/oeip/taf/us_stat.htm

  2. “The Fight to Preserve Consumers’ Right to Chose Where and How to Repair Their Vehicles,” The CAR Coalition, February 16, 2021,

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qg3t2DnZnk&t=11s

  3. “Data Submission for the Federal Trade Association (FTC) Workshop ‘Nixing the Fix’,” Automotive Body Parts Association, April 30, 2019,

    https://www.autobpa.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/ABPA-Messaging-for-FTC-Nixing-the-Fix-Workshop.pdf

  4. “Industry Access and Control of Vehicle Data,” Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association,

    https://www.aftermarketsuppliers.org/industry-access-and-control-vehicle-data

  5. Bedgood, Larisa, “A Look at Trends and Statistics in the Automotive Aftermarket Industry,” V12 Data, May 24, 2018,

    https://v12data.com/blog/a-look-at-trends-and-statistics-in-the-automotive-aftermarket-industry-2017/

  6. Hogg, Christine, “91% of independent automotive repair shops report decreased revenue, study finds,” Auto Service World, December 14, 2020,

    https://www.autoserviceworld.com/91-of-independent-automotive-repair-shops-report-decreased-revenue-study-finds/

The SMART Act Protects Consumer Choice

The SMART Act (H.R. 3664) is bipartisan legislation, currently sitting before the House Judiciary Committee, that will amend U.S. design patent law to reduce the time to 2.5 years that original auto manufacturers can enforce design patents against alternative parts manufacturers. Currently, automakers have a 15-year window to enforce design patents on auto parts such as fenders and doors, and other parts, crowding out competition.

In addition to the CAR Coalition, which includes American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA), Automotive Body Parts Association (ABPA), AutoZone, and LKQ, the SMART Act is supported by the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety Coalition, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC), Auto Care Association, RetireSafe, AARP, and more.  

Tell Congress to Protect Your Right to Repair

The time to act is now. Americans have a right to own their car’s data, the right to have their car repaired at independently-owned repair shops that are as equally equipped to service them as any auto dealer, and the right to choose the parts they want.

The SMART Act (H.R. 3664) is a key bill to restore consumer choice and lower repair costs. Contact your members of Congress to voice your support.