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Feature   August 1, 2008   by CARS Magazine

News Briefs (August 01, 2008)

APRA Joins Forces with Computer Manufacturers

APRA Joins Forces with Computer Manufacturers

In an important ruling issued right before it adjourned for the summer, the United States Supreme Court dealt a defeat to a software company which was trying to impose greater restrictions on the use of its products after their sale to customers.

The case was titled Quanta Computer, Inc. v LG Electronics, Inc. LG, a Korean manufacturer of computer electronics, had tried to collect multiple royalties from the sale of its software by demanding royalties not only from Intel, the chip manufacturer that incorporated LG’s patented software into its microprocessor chips, but also from Quanta and the other computer manufacturers that use the Intel chips in their computers.

The Automotive Parts Remanufacturers Association (APRA) actively supported the computer manufacturers to protect the remanufacturing industry’s “right to repair.”

Because of the potentially devastating impact of a ruling favoring LG’s position on the “right to repair” a patented product and the ability of APRA members to remanufacture motor vehicle products, APRA filed a “friend of the court” brief.

In the brief, APRA argued that “the right to repair depends upon proper application of the Court’s precedents on patent exhaustion and implied license, because the repair right attaches only where the product is subject to exhaustion or the use of the patent is licensed. Any curtailment of the scope of patent exhaustion or implied license necessarily constricts the repair right, and substantially expands the patent owner’s power to preclude otherwise lawful commerce in the repair of patented articles and the sale of unpatented components.”

The APRA says the court ruling was influenced by this concern and recognized that adopting LG’s position would destroy the independent repair and remanufacturing industry.

Justice Clarence Thomas, speaking for the Court, stated “The authorized sale of an article that substantially embodies a patent exhausts the patent holder’s rights and prevents the patent holder from invoking patent law to control post-sale use of the article.”

APRA continues to monitor pending court cases, as well as legislative and regulatory activities, to support positive actions promoting motor vehicle parts remanufacturing and to ensure that any efforts that could adversely affect the remanufacturing industry are vigorously opposed.

Carstar Expands In Alberta

Carstar Automotive Canada has announced two new franchises in Alberta. The addition of these locations increases the company’s presence in the province, to a total of 12 locations.

Capital Carstar Collision in Edmonton and Wrinkles Carstar Collision in High River are now part of a network of over 125 locations across the country. The owners of the new locations, John Kloeckes and Mark Kharfan and Brian Grover have been a part of the corporate family since 1999, each with one other location.

“It’s a pleasure to welcome two more locations to Alberta,” says Larry Jefferies, executive VP, Carstar Automotive Canada Inc. “The province’s population is growing, so we felt it was important to expand our network in this area.”

Aftermarket Antes Up for Kids

The 16th Annual Automotive Aftermarket Retailers of Ontario Charity Golf Tournament added $30,000 to the $200,000 total raised for the Bloorview Kids Foundation.

There to accept the cheque was 11-year-old Max Setka, who has been benefiting from the care of the Foundation for most of his life.

Setka’s mother, Katherine Harrison, told attendees of the tournament that their contributions have had a direct effect on the ability for families such as theirs to have access to items such as the special braces that he needs to walk. Walking was something that many felt would never be possible, she said, adding this his mobility is an indispensable part of his life now, due in no small part to the professionals at the Bloorview institution.

In the first half of 2008, 151,169 vehicles were imported into Canada from the United States. Import volume has more than doubled from the same period last year and Canadians are on pace to smash the 2007 record for buying American vehicles.

U. S. Cars Flooding Canadian Roads

Much of the import volume is driven by consumer demand, and with the Canadian and American currencies still close to par, vehicles are generally less expensive in the United States.

“It seems the only thing stopping more Canadians from importing American vehicles is confusion about the import process,” says Mark Sandelin, chief executive officer of Import- Trader, a company that helps Canadian consumers and Canadian auto dealers import cars from the United States. Import volumes from the United States went up more than 55 per cent in each of the past two years. The numbers have continued to rise in 2008. In each month, from January through June of this year, import volumes more than doubled from the same month in 2007.

“Consumer awareness is certainly a major reason for the increase in import volume,” says Brian Osler, president and CEO of the North American Automobile Trade Association (NAATA), the Ontario based association of dealers specializing in cross-border sales.

Rise In Lease Trades Good For The Aftermarket?

In the wake of high gas prices and the slumping U. S. auto market, Lease- has experienced a 30 percent increase in transactions for its lease transfer program. Such a shift could prove positive for the aftermarket, as new lease owners will not have the same relationship with the dealer.

Consumers point to a slowing economy and unappealing new car sales incentives as leading reasons why they’d rather take over someone else’s lease. Some U. S. auto manufacturers have reported sales decreases from 20 to 40 per cent on certain vehicles in recent months, and even smaller, more fuel-efficient cars are selling at low, single-digit increases for manufacturers.

Since the beginning of 2008, Lease- has tracked a 30 per cent increase in transactions.

Vehicle shoppers have the luxury of taking the car salesman out of the picture by negotiating directly with another consumer wanting out of a vehicle that still has several months remaining on the lease.

So far in 2008, the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class have been the most popular vehicles for lease transfer.

Alberta Tire Recycling Hits 50 Million

Alberta Recycling Management Authority (Alberta Recycling) is celebrating the recycling of Alberta’s 50-millionth scrap tire.

This milestone was commemorated today with the laying of a specially engraved rubber tile at the racetrack at Northlands Park in Edmonton.

This tile, made from Alberta’s recycled scrap tires, was set in place by the Honourable Rob Renner, Minister of Alberta Environment.

“Congratulations to Alberta Recycling for reaching the 50-million mark for recycled tires, and to Northlands Park for making a good environmental choice to use recycled rubber in their project,” stated Renner.

Since Alberta’s tire recycling program began in 1992, it has succeeded in eliminating the hazardous stockpiles of tires that once littered the province and overloaded its landfills.

Alberta Recycling is a not-for-profit association responsible for managing Alberta’s electronics, tire and paint recycling programs.

Toyota Cuts SUV Production, Set to Build Prius in U. S.

Toyota is responding to changes in consumer demand and improving the production efficiency and stability of its North American operations by adjusting production mix at three plants. The changes include the addition of the Prius hybrid sedan to its North American lineup. According to the compnay, the changes are as follows: Prius will be built at a plant under construction in Blue Springs, Miss. Production is scheduled to begin in late 2010. Prius, which will join the Kentucky-built C
amry Hybrid as the second Toyota hybrid built in North America, enables Toyota to better respond to increased consumer demand for hybrid vehicles. The Highlander mid-size SUV, originally scheduled to be built in Mississippi, will now be manufactured in Princeton, Ind., beginning in Fall 2009. Production of the Tundra full-size pick-up truck, currently built in Indiana and Texas, will be consolidated at the San Antonio plant in Spring 2009. In addition, Toyota will temporarily suspend Tundra and Sequoia production beginning August 8 due to the declining overall market for full size trucks and SUVs. Production is scheduled to resume in early November.

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