Tuesday, May 17, 2011, 5/17/2011 10:42:00 AM

The Right to Repair Act and Trade Secrets

By Todd
United Business Media is reporting that the AAA (Automobile Association of America) has come out in support of the Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act (H.R. 1449).

"The purchase of a motor vehicle is now a greater investment than ever before," said Jill Ingrassia, managing director, government relations and traffic safety advocacy for AAA. "New technology has made the cars we drive smarter, more efficient and safer. However, some vehicles are being manufactured with systems that do not allow independent repair shops and auto technicians to interpret information necessary to diagnose and repair problems. Motorists faced with no alternative but to have their vehicles serviced at a dealership may be limited in their ability to get competitive prices, convenient locations, or the option of getting a second opinion."

The Right to Repair Act protects motoring consumers from an expensive and growing vehicle repair monopoly by requiring that car companies provide full access at a reasonable cost to all service information, tools, computer codes and safety-related bulletins needed to repair motor vehicles. The pro-consumer, pro-small business bill is intended to level the competitive playing field for motoring consumers and between new car dealerships and independent repair shops. The legislation further provides car companies with strong protections for their trade secrets, only requiring them to make available the same non-proprietary diagnostic and repair information they provide their franchised dealers.

The supporters of the bill say the following about the automobile manufacturers' trade secret issues:

"The Right to Repair legislation only applies to information necessary to repair a vehicle. The
information needed to produce replacement parts is very different from the information used to
repair a vehicle. Unlike a parts producer, repair technicians do not need to know the internal
software codes or specifications of a part. They only need to know the information that comes
off the diagnostic systems in order to understand where a failure has occurred and how to repair
that malfunction. The bill ensures that the information that comes off the computer is owned
by the car owner, while the internal codes used to develop the software is owned by the vehicle
manufacturer."

We'll watch this one for you.

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