FCC takes the position that manufacturers may not invalidate warranties because of 3rd-party parts

The FCC recently issued letters to six manufacturers, essentially telling them that their warranties are illegal under the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act because the warranty documents state that using third-party parts invalidates their warranty. The FCC’s position is that warrantors may not invalidate warranties based on third-party parts unless the warranty includes parts without costs to the consumer. If the warranty does not include free parts, then according to the FCC the penalty for third-party parts is illegal and unenforceable by the warrantor.

The language the FCC focused on included the following provisions:

  • The use of [company name] parts is required to keep your . . . manufacturer’s warranties and any extended warranties intact.
  • This warranty shall not apply if this product . . . is used with products not sold or licensed by [company name].
  • This warranty does not apply if this product . . .  has had the warranty seal on the [product] altered, defaced, or removed.

The FCC says that this language harms consumers and competing companies: "Provisions that tie warranty coverage to the use of particular products or services harm both consumers who pay more for them as well as the small businesses who offer competing products and services."

For more information, you can visit the FCC’s announcement.

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