Keller and Heckman partner Sheila Millar and counsel Mike Gentine wrote the Inhouse Defense Quarterly article, “The Right to Repair: Implications for Consumer Product Safety and Data Security. The article examines the potential effects of President Biden’s July 9, 2021, executive order that aims to expand consumers’ “right to repair.” Advocates of the right to repair, including the Federal Trade Commission, suggest that requiring manufacturers to broadly allow consumers and others to repair products – including electronic goods – would bring prices down by fostering competition and compelling manufacturers to design products that are easier for untrained repairers to fix
But, as the authors point out, policy decisions should consider the potential impacts on consumers and businesses alike. Failing to safeguard IP could adversely affect global U.S. competitiveness at a time when counterfeiting not only affects profits but can be linked to safety concerns. And unskilled repairs themselves could result in bypassing or disabling safety features and create possible regulatory compliance problems for manufacturers. Changes could potentially create data security vulnerabilities. Compromises to safety, regulatory compliance and privacy could expose manufacturers to liability. It is critical for legislators and regulators to carefully balance consumer and business interests when analyzing whether limits on the right to repair make good sense and reflect sound public policy.
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