Oregon Governor Signs Right to Repair Law

technician scanning barcode of a broken component looking for a replacement part, surrounded by laptop, hardrive, tools

(Credit: Unsplash)

by | Apr 1, 2024

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Oregon Governor Tina Kotek has signed a pioneering “Right to Repair” law, positioning Oregon alongside states like New York, Minnesota, and California in championing consumer rights and environmental conservation. This legislation mandates technology companies provide customers and independent repair shops access to necessary parts, tools, and schematics for a broad spectrum of electronic devices, thereby promoting repair over replacement.

Bridging the Gap for Electronic Repairs

The Oregon legislation mirrors the initiatives of several states by requiring tech companies to facilitate repairs of electronic devices sold within its jurisdiction. Notably, it covers smartphones released post-July 1, 2021, and most other electronics sold retroactively to July 1, 2015. This move ensures that devices are maintainable and extend their lifecycle, reducing electronic waste significantly.

Innovating Against Parts Pairing

A distinctive feature of the Oregon statute is its stance against “parts pairing,” a practice where manufacturers prevent the integration of non-authorized parts in their devices, potentially disabling device features upon such attempts. Notably, this regulation will come into effect for devices manufactured after January 1, 2025, aiming to safeguard device functionality regardless of the source of parts used for repairs.

Enhancing Device Repairability and Longevity

The new law significantly boosts the repairability of devices purchased in Oregon, particularly from 2025 onwards. By applying to conventional electronics and smart devices like watches and vacuums, the legislation compels manufacturers to offer repair alternatives rather than forcing new purchases. This shift will empower consumers and small businesses to repair and incentivize manufacturers to produce more durable products.

While comprehensive, the law will exempt specific categories such as medical devices, farm equipment, internal combustion engine devices, and video game consoles. Companies outside these exemptions, must provide essential repair documentation and parts.

The Challenge of Malicious Compliance

According to The Repair Association, there is a growing concern around “malicious compliance,” where manufacturers comply with the letter of Right to Repair laws but not their spirit, employing strategies that effectively sidestep genuine compliance. This approach includes unfair and deceptive practices aimed at maintaining control over repairs, as highlighted by instances involving such companies including Apple, Samsung, and John Deere. The examples presented in detail by The Repair Association underscore a significant barrier to the effectiveness of Right to Repair legislation in the states where it exists currently.

As more states introduce such laws, the loopholes exploited by manufacturers are likely to be addressed through more stringent legislative requirements and increased enforcement by States’ Attorneys General, signaling a hopeful future for the Right to Repair movement, with more than 35 states currently considering new legislation.

Empowering Consumers and Promoting Sustainability

At its core, the Right to Repair movement seeks to empower consumers to maintain and extend the life of their purchased products. By facilitating access to repair resources, the law aims to make device repair more economical and accessible, contrasting sharply with the prevailing decades-old trend of disposability.

Oregon’s Right to Repair law champions consumer rights and embodies a crucial stride toward environmental sustainability with a roadmap for remaining states to follow. By mandating that companies prioritize repairability, the legislation fosters a culture of longevity and reuse, potentially transforming the industry’s approach to product lifecycle management and paving the way for a less-wasteful future.

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