The FTC has announced that it will host a workshop on July 16, 2019, called Nixing the Fix: A Workshop on Repair Restrictions, aimed at examining manufacturer restrictions on consumer and third-party product repairs and the extent to which such restrictions implicate consumer protection. The announcement lists covered topics, including the interplay between repair restrictions and consumer protection laws like those in the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act; the impact of repair restrictions on extended warranties and service agreements; the types of repair reductions in the United States and extent to which these restrictions are used; and consumers’ understanding about the existence and effects of repair restrictions, among other subjects.
In advance of the workshop, the FTC is also asking for empirical research and data regarding the prevalence and impact of product repair restrictions. Such restrictions can include code that disables products that have been repaired by someone other than the manufacturer; product designs that inhibit repairs (such as using glue that only the manufacturer can remove); contractual post-sale or licensing restrictions; and proprietary diagnostic software and replacement parts. The FTC requests that such research and data be submitted by 11:59 EDT on April 30, 2019.
Finally, the FTC has also solicited comments from the public on issues relating to product repair restrictions. Comments must be filed electronically or in paper form by September 16, 2019.