Electronics and capital equipment manufacturers have been nervously watching as the “right to repair” movement gains traction in the United States and European Union. Proponents of right to repair want to compel manufacturers to provide parts, software code and documentation to let customers repair complex equipment on their own. Opponents argue that it hurts business, violates intellectual property rights and could even put lives at risk (e.g., if an improperly repaired tractor injured the operator or a self-repaired medical device killed a patient).
Arguments aside, support for right to repair has grown steadily, with 20 U.S. states considering right to repair legislation, three presidential candidates publicly endorsing the movement and recent EU legislation requiring manufacturers to make appliances easier to repair.
Looking at these trends, manufacturers would be well advised to draw up contingency plans to protect equipment, customer safety and their brand reputation if new right to repair laws were passed. Practical steps include: