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Equipment Dealers And Right-To-Repair Advocates Clash In Committee Hearing

Original source: Industry Update


A clash between a right-to-repair advocate and a hardware dealership owner at a House Small Business Subcommittee hearing Wednesday hints at the internal battles lawmakers will wage as they consider measures that would require machine manufacturers to provide customers with the software, parts and tools they want to make. own repairs.

Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director of The Repair Association, and Ken Taylor, president of Ohio Machinery Co., argued during a hearing before the Agriculture and Rural Development Subcommittee on whether Congress should limit the restrictions companies can place on tools and information. farmers, third-party mechanics and consumers can use to repair high-tech equipment.

Taylor, who represented the Equipment Dealers Association at the hearing, expressed concern that giving ordinary people access to internal software inside their equipment would allow them to change emissions and safety controls in tractors and other vehicles. He said dealers already sell a number of parts to farmers but don’t want to see customers trying to tamper with internal controls for safety, environmental and intellectual property reasons.

“As a dealer, we have very high standards of what we want to see in a customer, and so we will not sacrifice those standards,” Taylor said. “When we go outside the authorized dealer network, there is no way to control the standards and the companies that meet those standards.”

Gordon-Byrne, on the other hand, said farmers just want to be able to get parts and make repairs themselves. She said it can be difficult to find licensed professionals to do some of the repairs needed in rural communities, forcing customers to travel long distances just to get their belongings fixed.

“All this worry about modifying emissions and tweaking tractors is just not a repair,” Gordon-Byrne said. “What we’re really asking for is the right to do something extremely simple that has been complicated by these questions.”

Members of the subcommittee, most of whom were Republicans, expressed mixed opinions about the potential right to change the law.


Rep. Pete Stauber, R-Minnesota, asked why rural Minnesotans should “wait for engineers from Silicon Valley to come and fix a product that they would be happy to fix themselves if given the chance.” After that, however, he emphasized that he wants manufacturers to continue to invest and innovate to improve their products.

“We need to be careful and careful in looking at this issue to ensure that we do have unintended consequences,” Stauber said.

Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas, expressed support for dealers and manufacturers, saying customers typically have no problem sending their equipment to dealers for repairs. Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif., said Congress would need to weigh what regulatory agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission, have on the issue before passing any legislation.

For her part, Rep. Claudia Tenney, D-New York, expressed concern that proposals requiring manufacturers to provide access to their software would violate intellectual property rights. She called for a solution that would find a “middle ground” between manufacturers, dealers and customers who want to make repairs.

“I think there’s maybe a middle ground here because I don’t like to look at it as a zero-sum game,” she said.

Tenney asked Taylor if there was a way for dealers to contract with third-party repair manufacturers and train them to operate the equipment. Tenney said this would require approval from the manufacturer as dealers are only intermediaries.

Brian Clark, co-owner of iGuys’ Tech Shop in New Hampshire, said that would be the solution, but expressed concern that manufacturers would try to impose controls on other businesses like his by requiring their subordinates to provide financial statements or show them what accessories they sell in their stores.

Jim Gerritsen, a Maine farmer, urged lawmakers to pass legislation that would codify “traditional and independent” repair rights for farmers and third-party repair shops.

“When a farmer buys equipment, it should be understood that he is buying all of it. It’s not that they’re just buying the metal, not the brains behind it. It’s a traditional right that we’ve always had,” Geritzen said.

Gerritsen said his work uses tractors from the 1970s that he knows he can repair, rather than modern equipment.

“We would never choose to put ourselves in the vulnerable position of being at the mercy of faulty electronic sensors and then involuntarily going into ‘soft mode’ and not being able to use the equipment we ‘own’ until the dealer’s expensive mechanic arrives.” their convenience with lifesaving computer software,” he said in his written testimony.

... GO TO Clash In Committee Hearing TO READ MORE

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