Michigan AG Takes Aim at Corporate Monopoly on Repairs

In this Aug. 4, 2015 photo, mechanic Max Durling builds a Mahindra GenZe 2.0 pre-production prototype at the company's factory in Ann Arbor, Mich. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

By Kyle Kaminski

March 30, 2023

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is going up to bat against corporate monopolies that make it difficult for people to repair their own cars, trucks, farm equipment and other electronics. 

MICHIGAN—It’s no secret. 

Manufacturers of automobiles, agricultural equipment, and other electronics don’t always make it easy for customers to complete their own repairs. The diagnostic software and parts used in those closed systems are often restricted—and that’s by an intentional, monopolistic design.  

Controlling the market on repairs (in addition to sales) can help larger corporations rake in higher profit margins, while simultaneously inconveniencing consumers and stifling competition from smaller businesses that could offer the repairs at a more reasonable cost, closer to home.

And for decades, consumers have argued that the restrictions have only prevented and raised costs on timely repairs, as well as harmed the environment and threatened small businesses.

Attorney General Dana Nessel took a firm stand against the practice this week, calling on Congress to protect farmers and other consumers in Michigan by passing expansive “right-to-repair” legislation on automobiles, farm equipment and other digital electronics. 

The stated goal: Ensure that Michigan’s small businesses can remain competitive against closed systems, ultimately allowing farmers to repair their own equipment at a more affordable price, and opening the door for consumers to repair more electronics instead of replacing them.

“The monopoly on repairs hurts consumers,” Nessel said in a statement. 

In a letter signed this week by attorneys general from 27 other states and territories, Nessel called for the passage of three pieces of proposed legislation that were introduced but failed to advance last year: The Fair Repair Act; the SMART Act; and the REPAIR Act.  

Combined, the legislation would require manufacturers to make parts, tools and diagnostic data available to independent repair shops (and customers) so they can fix their own products. It would also reform copyright laws, raising the bar for what it would take for manufacturers to file patent infringement lawsuits against companies that produce components used for repairs.

Former US Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Illinois), who sponsored one of the right-to-repair bills last year, has said the legislation would help “end manufacturers’ monopoly on vehicle repair and maintenance, and allow Americans the freedom to choose where to repair their vehicles.”

Author

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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