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MHTC Testimony
Joint Committee on Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure
James D. Rooney, Vice President
June 28, 2011

RE:  Opposition to H. 102 & S. 104 “Right to Repair”

Chairman Kennedy, Chairman Speliotis, and distinguished members of the Committee:

Thank you for the opportunity to provide brief testimony in opposition to H. 102 & S. 104, the so-called “Right to Repair” bills before you today.

As you know, The Massachusetts High Technology Council is an organization that has worked for more than thirty years to advance the Massachusetts technology sector’s competitiveness, talent pool and connections by leading successful policy initiatives, creating new strategic business partnerships, and promoting the state’s competitiveness writ large  As such, we wish to express our opposition to H.102 and S.104, legislation which would directly infringe private businesses’ intellectual property rights.

Massachusetts should take pride in being first in the nation in a number of notable ways. Massachusetts is where the first shots of the Revolution were fired, where the first public schools were established and where more recently universal health care was first enacted and all four sports teams won championships in the same decade. But we do not want to be the first to undermine intellectual property.

H. 102 and S. 104 would effectively require unprecedented access to a private sector intellectual property by requiring otherwise prohibited compulsory licensing of automobile manufacturers’ patented and copyrighted technology.  This proposed “Right to Repair” legislation would force automobile manufacturers to enter into compulsory licenses with an almost unlimited number of parties, including competitors, through which they would have to turn over almost every piece of intellectual property connected with the automobiles they manufacture. If the Massachusetts State Legislature supports passage of these two bills, it would, in essence, eliminate trade secret protection as it applies to automobiles, and directly and unconstitutionally conflict with federal patent and copyright law.  Passage of legislation allowing for this infringement on intellectual property rights undoubtedly will set a precedent for legislation that could likewise threaten intellectual property rights in other business sectors, including the high-tech sector.  H.102 and S.104 represent a direct threat to the growth and security of all companies dependent on intellectual property to maintain their business models.

These bills do nothing less than devalue and narrow the intellectual property rights that currently exist under federal and common law.  The protections afforded by these laws establish a competitive incentive for manufacturers to invest in research and development, the same incentive that has led to the innovations in safety and efficiency we now enjoy.  For these reasons, the Massachusetts High Technology Council asks you to strongly consider the implications if this legislation were enacted.  Passage of this legislation would represent a direct threat to manufacturers in all sectors, as well as present a threat to consumers who will be subjected to inferior and substandard products manufactured by companies who simply copy technology as opposed to developing a product through the time-honored process of investment in research and development.

Thank you for your time and anticipated consideration.

 

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