After buying a car, you can expect it to develop some mechanical failure at some point in its lifespan. Mechanical failures could result from misuse, faulty parts, or normal tear and wear. When the failure occurs, you can take your car to your dealership for repairs or go to an independent car shop.
Sometimes the repairs may require replacing the faulty part. If you choose your dealership, you know you will get an OEM part. You will probably get an aftermarket part if you choose an independent car shop. To understand why OEMs are wary of aftermarket parts, it is best first to understand what the two are.
OEM vs. Aftermarket Parts
OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer, meaning a car manufacturer makes these car parts. These parts tend to fit perfectly well because they are identical in all aspects to those needing replacing.
On the other hand, aftermarket parts are designed for use in a car but are made by independent car parts makers. These manufacturers often try to create a product almost similar to the original that fits just as fine but may not be the same quality as an OEM.
How Aftermarket Parts Affect OEMs
One of the biggest concerns for OEMs is the availability of aftermarket parts for several reasons. First, aftermarket parts can be significantly similar to the original parts, meaning customers may not differentiate between the OEM and aftermarket parts. This means that unscrupulous business people will sell aftermarket parts as the original.
Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that the aftermarket part will offer the same service as an OEM. When the part fails to meet the consumer’s expectations, the OEM’s reputation takes a hit. As a result, the consumer may not want to buy vehicles from the car company in the future, which could mean a loss of revenue.
Besides getting a tainted reputation, the company making the aftermarket parts will eat into the OEMs market share and profits.
What Can OEMs Do to Protect Themselves From Aftermarket Products?
Product design is part of intellectual property protected under Canadian intellectual property law. However, you can only enjoy product design protections if you register your designs with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO).
There are several options for protecting a product’s design. But the most effective form of protection for car parts is registering your industrial designs.
Registering your industrial designs gives you exclusive rights to a car part’s appearance and aesthetics. If another party creates a relatively similar product in terms of design or appearance, you have a right to sue them for infringement.
Under Canadian intellectual property law, a product must not be a replica of the original product to infringe on another party’s industrial design rights. As long as the product closely resembles the original product in such a way that a customer may not tell one from the other, they will violate the other party’s IP rights.
Filling a Lawsuit against an Infringing Party
Damage from an infringement of an OEM’s industrial design rights can be significantly high. If you have registered your OEM parts designs with CIPO and are aware of an infringement, you have a right to sue for damages.
IP infringement cases are best handled with the help of a lawyer. Often, the first step in a case of infringement is to have your lawyer send the infringer a cease and desist notice. If damage is already done, you may have to go ahead and file a lawsuit where you can recover damages such as loss of revenue and damage to your company’s reputation.
Industrial design protections are not limited to car parts. You can register a design for any product as long as it is your creation.