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Car spare parts: France adopts the repair clause

Car spare parts: France adopts the repair clause

The French Parliament has adopted a law on mobility, which includes important provisions on car spare parts and their protection. Unless censured by the Constitutional Court, the amendments made by this law to the spare parts regime will be as follows:

      1. Copyright can no longer be invoked to prohibit “the reproduction, use and marketing of parts intended to restore the initial appearance of a motor vehicle (or a trailer)”.

      1. Parts relating to windows, optics and mirrors fall outside the scope of design protection, which may no longer be invoked against third parties.

      1. Design registrations will still be possible for spare parts not falling into these three categories (windows, optics, mirrors) but their maximum duration will be limited to 10 years, against 25 years for any Design in other fields.

      1. Whatever the category, the holder of a registered Design for car (or trailers) spare parts may no longer invoke it against the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) who manufactured the original part.

The law will enter into force on January 1rst 2020 as far as points 1. and 2. are concerned. For points 3. and 4., it provides for a transition by postponing the entry into force to January 1rst 2021. However, this is with the exception of spare parts in the categories “windows, optics, mirrors”, since the protection of these parts ceases in any case as from 1 January 2020. From that date, OEMs will therefore be able to manufacture and market spare parts for windows, optics and mirrors.

The French legislator has therefore decided to join the countries of the European Union which have a “repair clause” in their design law, as has long been required by Directive 98/71 on Designs. The clause has been limited at this stage to the automotive sector, but it is clearly the most important and symbolic spare parts market.

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