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Massachusetts business organizations oppose “Right to Repair” legislation

Several Massachusetts technology and business organizations have joined forces in opposing proposed legislation that would restrict automakers’ IP rights.

Massachusetts’ so-called “Right to Repair” legislation has been met by major opposition from some of the states’ largest technology and business organizations, the Massachusetts Auto Coalition announced today. The opposing organizations, which include the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, Massachusetts Medical Device Industry Council and Massachusetts High Technology Council, argue that the bill would weaken intellectual property protections, forcing companies to release patented technology, copyrighted software and trade secrets.

If passed, the “Right to Repair” legislation would require companies to release trade secrets to any “motor vehicle owner” who requests access to them. Brad McDougall, associate VP for government affairs of Associated Industries of Massachusetts says the “Right to Repair” bill could have negative consequences for business statewide.

“Not only is ‘Right to Repair’ not needed, it carries a host of unintended consequences that are bad for business in Massachusetts, particularly industries that rely on legal protections for intellectual property, trade secrets, copyrighted and confidential information,” he said in a statement.  “Passage of this bill could result in a reduction of in-state investment by both global corporations and homegrown firms, killing jobs and hurting Massachusetts’ growing innovation economy.”

Although the “Right to Repair” legislation specifically targets the auto industry, opponents say passage of the bill would establish a dangerous precedent, possibly paving the way for similar legislation affecting other industries, such as a pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical devices and computer software.

“The Mass High Tech Council works to strengthen the competitive advantage of member companies and the regional technology economy,” said Jim Rooney, VP of the Massachusetts High Technology Council. “Right to Repair’s passage could impact other industries and harm efforts to enhance cost-competitiveness, advance the transfer of technology, and develop new education opportunities and talent that currently sets Massachusetts apart from other states and economies in the nation.”

Supporters of the bill argue that manufacturers’ concerns are addressed in section 4 of the proposed legislation. Opponents counter that the protections are inadequate and do not protect against third-party disclosures made by “motor vehicle owners” who request information. Furthermore, they say that, if passed, the legislation will prompt a flood of IP lawsuits that would clog Massachusetts courts and burden manufacturers with unnecessary legal fees.

Kayleigh Roberts

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