by Dennis Crouch
In a unanimous vote among the five commissioners, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will move forward with a new policy regarding the right-to-repair. This decision was foreshadowed by a 2019 workshop and 2021 report to Congress.
The Commission is taking four steps:
- Stepping up enforcement of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act prohibitions on tie-in sales, inter alia.
- Scrutinizing repair restrictions to determine whether they violate US antitrust laws.
- Scrutinizing repair restrictions to determine whether they constitute unfair competition or deceptive trade practices.
- Coordinating with state law enforcement and policymakers to “advance the goal of open repair markets.”
Read the Policy Statement. FTC commissioners are nominated by the President and serve for Seven year terms, and no more than three Commissioners (out of Five) can be from the same political party. FTC Chair Lina Khan is a recent law school graduate (2017), although she had already focused on antitrust and platform monopoly issues (such as Amazon) for more than a decade at the New America Foundation. The remaining four were all nominated by President Trump, although two are Democrats and two Republicans.
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A big next question is the extent we can encourage manufacturers to produce repairable products. To what extent can easy-to-repair fit into the marketing strategy? And, can Patent Law do something with this regard?