Another patent reform: the PARTS Act
In this era of hyper-partisanship, it's notable that a bipartisan pair of California members of Congress, Republican Darrell Issa and Democrat Zoe Lofgren, are together proposing reforms to a problem that affects nearly every American: the high cost of auto repairs.
Their Promoting Automotive Repair, Trade and Sales (PARTS) Act also has bipartisan sponsors in the Senate. Its topic is the little-understood subject of design patents, a form of intellectual property once briefly suppressed during the 19th century, enabling scores of lawsuits against farmers who used patented agrarian equipment, not unlike today's problem of patent trolls.
The PARTS Act promises to lower the cost of repairs by creating a limited carve-out that reduces the length of time in which a design patent could be enforced against manufacturers of aftermarket cosmetic car parts designed to restore vehicles to original appearance. Similar safe harbors already exist in the United Kingdom, Australia and a number of European countries.
One notes that Issa and Lofgren also both support the Innovation Act.