Battle For the Right to Repair Bolstered with Recent Vote

Brian German Agri-Business, Industry

Right to Repair

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is going to become more actively engaged when comes to the right to repair. After a recent vote of 5-0, the FTC will be enhancing efforts to combat repair restrictions. The announcement comes just days after an executive order from President Joe Biden pertaining to competition. The order specifically mentions addressing the ability of manufacturers to restrict the independent repair of their products. The FTC has indicated that it will be going after repair restrictions that violate antitrust laws or equate to unfair or deceptive acts or practices.

“These types of restrictions can significantly raise costs for consumers, stifle innovation, close off business opportunity for independent repair shops, create unnecessary electronic waste, delay timely repairs, and undermine resiliency,” FTC Chair Lina Khan said in a written statement. “The FTC has a range of tools it can use to root out unlawful repair restrictions, and today’s policy statement would commit us to move forward on this issue with new vigor.”

A recent FTC report points out that manufacturers have engaged in various practices to limit the ability to fix and maintain products. The right to repair equipment has been a significant issue for the agricultural industry. The policy statement from FTC points out that repair restrictions have resulted in an increased burden on consumers and businesses. Consumers are being encouraged to submit complaints to the FTC when they encounter violations of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. That law specifically prohibits binding a product warranty to the use of a certain provider or product unless expressly allowed by an FTC waiver.

“Farmers relying on tractors and other equipment have been blocked from an open repair market, which can lead to spoiled crops and missing out on critical income,” said FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra. “The pandemic exposed serious weaknesses in our nation’s resilience and ability to recover from shocks. While we typically view improper repair restrictions through its effects on fair competition, consumers, and small businesses, the Right to Repair movement also showed us how these problems can be matters of life and death.”

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West