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08-19-2017
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Protecting your rights to Repair your vehicle!

In our last installment of explaining your rights so you know how the law protects you and your hobby, we discussed the First Sale Doctrine, and how it protects you when you want to maintain your own property (be it car, lawn mower, cell phone, etc.)

This week, we’re going to talk about the Magnusson-Moss warranty act, and how it protects you from unscrupulous manufacturers and dealers that do not want to repair their products after the sale, just because you may or may not have done something to personalize your vehicle.

First of all, the Magnusson-Moss warranty act protects you on all products that have a warranty. Basically, if something you buy has a warranty, it has to be in writing, and it has to explain what is and what is not covered, and for how long. Additionally, it should explain how to receive warranty service on the item if it is required.

Now, one loophole that is often exploited by car manufacturers has to do with if a vehicle has been modified in any way, they try to void the entire warranty. So say you have a 3/36 bumper-to-bumper warranty and you install an aftermarket stereo – then unrelated the remote unlock button quits working. By law, the only way to deny you warranty coverage on the remote button would be to prove that the failure was caused by the aftermarket stereo or an improper installation that maybe cut a wire. But if that is not the case, the dealer / manufacturer must honor the warranty and repair the problem.

As a similar example, if you were to install an aftermarket muffler, and then the transmission fails, the manufacturer must repair the transmission unless they can prove the muffler was the cause of the failure.

So when you’re worried about warranty coverage on your new vehicle when contemplating that next upgrade, just remember, the only things that warranty can be denied on going forward would be things that are damaged by (or could realistically be damaged by) the upgraded piece in question. A supercharger might damage something downstream in the drivetrain, but it can’t be responsible for hood corrosion or failure of a door latch mechanism. Similarly, a hands-free phone install might damage the stereo, climate system, or instrument cluster, but it can’t be held responsible for throwing a rod through the engine block.

Disclaimer – We’re not lawyers but advocates for both small business and consumer rights. Follow us to learn more and how to protect yourself and your hobby from those who would like to control what you can do with your own property for their monetary gain.



08-06-2017
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Your Rights Are Under Attack!

Do you own your car? Have you taken a picture of it, posted it to social media or printed it for a photo album? If so, you (and the social media and printing providers) are infringing on the trade dress of the company who manufactured the car, or so they would have you believe…

Currently, SilverHorse Racing is engaged in a Federal lawsuit with Ford Motor Company for among other things, the right to even show a picture of a Mustang (or other car) on our website, on our Facebook page, or anywhere else. Your rights are under attack because if Ford were to prevail in this frivolous suit, eventually they could demand everyone, not just small companies like ours, to seek approval and pay a royalty before showing a picture of their car, or face stiff fines and injunctions.

So what can you do? Well – you don’t have to do anything! The law clearly protects you as a consumer under the First Sale Doctrine, which basically says once a company sells you a product, their trademark (or trade dress) rights end, and yours begin. So yes you can take that picture, you can post it up, you can repaint your car, strip the logos, paint the logos, etc.. and still be 100% within your rights.

If you damage or want to upgrade an emblem on your car, a fuel door, or anything else for that matter, and you want to replace it, you don’t have to replace it with the original! You are allowed, by law, to go to whoever you like and they can produce or offer that product to you just as if you made it yourself, which is also legal.

A trademark is not like a Patent or Copyright, which protects against all copies, it is simply a protection that can be used if someone is trying to pass off their product as those of someone else. Absent that confusion, there can be no infringement, and therefore, you can buy the replacement or upgraded piece from whoever you like, under your rights as the consumer and owner.

Disclaimer – We’re not lawyers but advocates for both small business and consumer rights. Follow us to learn more and how to protect yourself and your hobby from those who would like to control what you can do with your own property for monetary gain.

 

 
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