The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has unanimously voted to ramp up law-enforcement against repair restrictions that prevent consumers, small businesses and others from fixing their owned products. The adopted policy statement is aimed at manufacturers’ practices that make it difficult for purchasers to repair their products or shop around for other service providers to do it for them.
“By enforcing against restrictions that violate antitrust or consumer protection laws, the Commission is taking important steps to restore the right to repair,” the FTC stated during an open Commission meeting on July 21. The Commission voted 5-0 to approve the policy statement.
“These types of [repair] restrictions can significantly raise costs for consumers, stifle innovation, close off business opportunity for independent repair shops, create unnecessary electronic waste, delay timely repairs, and undermine resiliency,” FTC chair Lina Khan said during the Commission meeting. “The FTC has a range of tools it can use to root out unlawful repair restrictions, and today’s policy statement would commit us to move forward on this issue with new vigor.”
The Commission indicated it would target repair restrictions that violate antitrust laws enforced by the FTC or the FTC Act’s prohibitions on unfair or deceptive acts or practices. The Commission also urged the public to submit complaints of violations of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which prohibits, among other things, tying a consumer’s product warranty to the use of a specific service provider or product, unless the FTC has issued a waiver.
The FTC’s vote came on the heels of President Biden’s executive order issued earlier in July targeting anti-competitive practices in various parts of the economy. The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) and the Equipment Dealers Association (EDA) have issued responses to the right-to-repair passage within the executive order.
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION