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Massachusetts Innovation Employers Oppose So-Called ‘Right to Repair’

Proposed Legislation Could Force Release of Proprietary Information

BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- The Massachusetts Auto Coalition today announced that four major technology and business organizations in the state – representing a combined 7600 major employers and research institutions in Massachusetts – are opposed to so-called “Right to Repair” legislation (H.102 / S.104). Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM), Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (MassBio), Massachusetts Medical Device Industry Council (MassMEDIC), and Massachusetts High Technology Council (Mass High Tech Council) all oppose the bill out of concern that it could weaken protections on and force the unrestricted release of intellectual property, including patented technology, copyrighted software programs, and trade secrets.

“Not only is ‘Right to Repair’ not needed, it carries a host of unintended consequences that are bad for business in Massachusetts, particularly industries that rely on legal protections for intellectual property, trade secrets, copyrighted and confidential information,” said Brad McDougall, Associate Vice President for Government Affairs of Associated Industries of Massachusetts. “Passage of this bill could result in a reduction of in-state investment by both global corporations and homegrown firms, killing jobs and hurting Massachusetts’ growing innovation economy.”

If successfully passed, H.102/S.104 would establish a precedent for state legislation to narrow intellectual property rights in other high-tech industries, such as pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device, and computer software.

“While this legislation is directed at the automobile industry, it could have implications on all companies involved in innovation and new product development,” said John Heffernan, Vice President of Policy and External Affairs for MassBio. “Our 600-plus members are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in research and development, commercializing new technologies and advancing new cures. This legislation, if passed, could discourage such activities in the state if protections on that investment are weakened.”

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“The Mass High Tech Council works to strengthen the competitive advantage of member companies and the regional technology economy,” said Jim Rooney, Vice President of the Massachusetts High Technology Council. “Right to Repair’s passage could impact other industries and harm efforts to enhance cost-competitiveness, advance the transfer of technology, and develop new education opportunities and talent that currently sets Massachusetts apart from other states and economies in the nation.”

Proponents of “Right to Repair” argue that Section 4 of the proposed legislation addresses manufacturers’ intellectual property (IP) concerns. However, the bill fails to protect patents, copyrights, trademarks and other confidential information and could unreasonably compel automakers to contractually divulge trade secrets to any “motor vehicle owner” demanding access to them. If one “motor vehicle owner” discloses an automaker’s trade secret to a third-party outside of a confidentiality agreement, manufacturers lose the trade secret protection Section 4 purportedly protects.

Further, if passed, the legislation would inevitably clog Massachusetts courts with complex, costly and disruptive intellectual property litigation. Automakers would be exposed to lawsuits from aftermarket parts manufacturers seeking automakers’ intellectual property, and the bill would force automakers and other industries to file costly lawsuits to police the use of their patents, copyrights and trademarks.

Existing intellectual property laws already strike the proper balance between what types of information companies should be entitled to protect and what types of information should be made available to the public, and existing federal and state laws already protect consumers and businesses from unfair trade practices. H.102/S.104 would allow aftermarket parts manufacturers to gain an unfair competitive advantage over automakers by using automakers’ intellectual property to lower their own engineering, research, development and production costs.

Similar “Right to Repair” legislation has been rejected in every other state in which it’s been introduced, and the United States Congress has failed to advance the proposal in every session since 2001. The Federal Trade Commission, which protects consumers and businesses against unfair trade practices, has objectively determined that “Right to Repair” legislation is not needed.

About the Mass Auto Coalition

The Massachusetts Auto Coalition is an expansive group of automobile industry organizations – including automakers, dealers, and independent service and repair technicians – and local business, regional commerce, labor, insurance, and law enforcement entities dedicated to explaining why the so-called “Right-to Repair” legislation is wrong for Massachusetts. Find out more at www.massautocoalition.org.

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Massachusetts Auto Coalition
PJ Foster, 617-391–9650
pjfoster@rasky.com

Source: Massachusetts Auto Coalition



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Social Security: The Black Box Edition.