Less than two weeks after President Biden issued an executive order regarding the Right to Repair, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a policy statement pledging to combat unlawful “right to repair” restrictions.
Although it remains to be seen how this action will affect the medical device sector, FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra explicitly mentioned ventilators in the statement, writing: “During the FTC’s review of this issue, we heard about hospitals worried that they would be unable to fix a ventilator because a manufacturer was seeking to deny access to repair it. Outages caused by repair restrictions like these can make the difference in times of emergencies.”
Wednesday’s new right to repair policy statement commits the FTC to encouraging competition in product repair markets with “vigor,” according to Chair Lina Khan. The statement, which was approved unanimously, makes it official FTC policy for the agency to use its existing authorities to support independent repair shops and lower repair costs for consumers.
“While efforts by dominant firms to restrict repair markets are not new, changes in technology and more prevalent use of software has created fresh opportunities for companies to limit independent repair,” Khan said Wednesday. “These types of restrictions can significantly raise costs for consumers, stifle innovation, close off business opportunities for independent repair shops, create unnecessary electronic waste, delay timely repairs, and undermine resiliency.”
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