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Spare parts are cheaper - exceptions to design protection

Spare parts probably only cheaper for new cars
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D he repair of visible body parts could soon become significantly cheaper. On May 15, 2019, the federal government decided to add a clause to the design law: Visible body parts such as the hoods and bumpers on the front and rear, the fenders, the exterior mirrors, the doors and also the headlights are to be copied and sold by other manufacturers. The replica spare parts are likely to be much cheaper than the original parts from the car manufacturers. So far, the reproduction of visible parts was prohibited because the car manufacturers could invoke a legally anchored design protection. There are now exceptions to this design protection: If the replacement part is used for repair, the protection is not applicable.

However, Justice Minister Katarina Barley (SPD) seems to be very accommodating with one exception to the exception of the auto industry: auto parts that are already available the change in the law got their design protection, should be protected for another 25 years. This means that visible parts of the 45 million vehicles currently registered in Germany would be exempt from market liberalization by at least 2044.

New exceptions to design protection: third-party manufacturers are now also allowed to recreate visible parts, such as exterior mirrors (in the picture a wing mirror from the Nissan Juke).

Wirtschaftswoche reports that customers who want to buy their vehicle after the amended Design Protection Act buy, benefit from significant price cuts could ren. Together with the General Association of Auto Parts Dealers (GVA), the economic specialists determined that third-party manufacturers could offer spare parts at up to 47 percent cheaper than themAutomaker. The evaluations are based on data from Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, where the spare parts business has already been liberalized. The 'free' spare parts from these countries were previously not allowed to be imported into Germany, traded here or installed by workshops. That this happens anyway, was tolerated by the auto industry - which it is legally obliged to do. However, the authorities themselves repeatedly took action against the illegal parts trade.

Auto industry holds back

Despite the planned long transition period, the auto industry is anything but enthusiastic: The VDA (Association of the Automotive Industry) points out that design protection is a prerequisite for investing in innovation. In addition, protection is necessary in the fight against product piracy. As a further counter-argument, the VDA points out that replica spare parts could impair the value retention and safety of the vehicle.

So far, the changes to design protection have only been drafts - the Bundestag has yet to pass the law. It is therefore an open question whether the law will even come and if so, whether the draft does not have to be changed


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