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Peter Groves
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I am reluctant to engage in such a bad-tempered and personal debate - but I suppose that's the way it is in the online world: and it serves to back up what I want to say - which is that, here in the UK, we had exactly this debate in the 1980s, and it was just as bad-tempered and personal. The US has done well to avoid engaging in this argument for 20 or more years ... It's not pleasant, and there is no single answer. I have not had time to read the whole of this thread, but I'll certainly make time to do so shortly. So I am not trying to answer any points already made - just to share my experience. From what I have seen, the Access to Repair Parts Act is trying to do pretty much what our law does: carve out exceptions to allow spare parts makers to compete with the vehicle manufacturers. The vehicle manufactures appear to be raising much the same arguments as they did here, and once again it seems to be Ford who are making the most noise. For what it's worth - I thought back then that most of their arguments could be addressed through products liability legislation, which we were getting at about the same time. If there really is a problem with a copy (we call these spare parts "spurious" parts - the people who make them don't seem to consider it an offensive expression) of a car bonnet ("hood", to you) decapitating the occupants in a front-end collision, which was Ford's favourite example, an approval system for spares would be the answer. After all, everywhere has approval systems for complete vehicles and I don't know of anyone who thinks that's a bad idea in principle (the detail is no doubt more contentious). I don't think intellectual property laws are the best way to deal with the issues - trademark laws probably least of all. I posted a comment on the Access to Repair Parts Act on my motor vehicle distribution blog, www.blockexemption.co.uk, and I'll continue to try to provide a commentary from a UK perspective there and on my IP blog (as well as here) which I hope you'll find interesting.
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Mar 24, 2010