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Design protection canceled ?: Repair clause: Auto spare parts could become cheaper in the future | message


Expensive repairs to the car

The maintenance costs for your own car can dig a deep hole in your wallet every year, depending on the repair effort. Even small sheet metal damage and scratches from parking or leaving a parking space can cost the vehicle owner dearly. The fact that these repairs are often so expensive is related to the expensive replacement of parts for visible elements.

Because the vehicle manufacturers usually hold the design patents for any visible spare parts, which is why the manufacturers can determine the prices for these relatively freely.

Due to the design protection, workshops have to purchase parts such as headlights, exterior mirrors and fenders directly from the manufacturer, so that cheap spare parts from third-party suppliers are practically not used or produced.

According to Focus, consumer advocates have found that the end consumer in particular has a disadvantage.

Bill with loopholes

This dilemma could now overturn due to a draft law by the federal government, which would increase competition in the spare parts market for visible auto parts. As the ADAC reports, the Bundestag decided on September 10, 2020 that there should be more freedom of choice in the spare parts market in the future, which would automatically make competition fairer.

According to this, the previous design protection of visible auto parts is to be lifted, which would allow third-party suppliers to compete directly with the manufacturer and its original parts.

This design has a catch, however, if manufacturers have already patented their existing designs, the protection continues to apply. For the consumer, this means that certain spare parts can only be offered at reduced prices by third-party suppliers after a delay of up to 25 years. Only designs that are registered after the law has come into force are no longer subject to grandfathering.

Need for improvement in the repair clause?

Despite its consumer-friendly intention, the so-called repair clause is also receiving criticism from the ADAC. As the traffic president of the automobile club, Gerhard Hillebrand, clarifies according to lifePR: “The introduction of the repair clause in German design law is an important step on the way to a free spare parts market, as the ADAC has been calling for for years. As long as the grandfathering of registered design rights If this liberalization is delayed by up to 25 years, we are not there because consumers will only benefit from the new regulation in the long term. An initiative at EU level must now be launched with great commitment to improve this point, so that owners of older cars can quickly benefit from the new law. ”

Accordingly, the repair clause does not help to create fair competition for the time being, because owners of old vehicles in particular still have to fall back on the mostly expensive original parts from the car manufacturers. Accordingly, consumer advocates advocate further steps towards fairer competition in the auto spare parts market.

Henry Ely / editors

Image sources: Alexander Chaikin /, inxti /

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