A Washington, D.C.-based think tank has joined stakeholders calling for regulators to use antitrust powers to bolster the independent electronics repair industry.
The Open Markets Institute (OMI) last month published a report titled “Fixing America: Breaking Manufacturers’ Aftermarket Monopoly and Restoring Consumers’ Right to Repair.” Claire Kelloway and Daniel Hanley of OMI wrote about the issue in an opinion piece published in The Hill on Monday, May 18.
“Repairability was once a standard and expectation,” according to the report. “Over time, a deadly combination of anemic antitrust enforcement and technological development have allowed manufacturers to purposefully adopt exclusionary practices and cut off the tools necessary for repair, in powerful and unprecedented ways. Fortunately, lawmakers, antitrust enforcers, and regulators have many policy mechanisms that can reopen repair markets.”
They called on the federal government to ensure consumers have the parts, tools, information and software necessary to repair their products; sue corporations that monopolize repair aftermarkets; enforce the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act to ensure manufacturers aren’t illegally limiting product warranties; and create exemptions in copyright and patent law to allow consumers and independent businesses to repair electronics.
Nathan Proctor of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, Kit Walsh of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Kyle Wiens of iFixit contributed feedback to the report.
Last summer, the Federal Trade Commission held a workshop gathering comments on restrictions to independent repair of electronics.
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