Call for Empirical Research: Nixing the Fix: A workshop on repair restrictions

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Scope of Research

In connection with an FTC workshop exploring repair restrictions, the FTC seeks research and data, rather than opinion pieces on law and policy, in the following areas:

  1. The prevalence of the following types of repair restrictions:
    • product designs that limit consumer and independent repair shop repairs (e.g., using adhesives instead of machine screws when securing a part such as a battery or requiring special, or proprietary, tools to open a product for repair, or to otherwise conduct repairs)
    • proprietary manufacturer diagnostic tools and parts that limit diagnoses and repairs by consumers or those unaffiliated with the manufacturer
    • product scans, or other diagnostics, used to determine whether a product has been opened or repaired by a party other than the manufacturer, such as a consumer or independent repair shop
    • stickers or labels that warn or imply that a product warranty will be voided if the product is opened or modified by anyone other than the manufacturer or its agent
    • examples of contractual post-sale or licensing restrictions, or proprietary diagnostic software and replacement parts
    • software updates that make products obsolete or unfixable if they have been previously repaired by consumers or repair shops
    • other types of repair restrictions
  2. The effect of repair restrictions on the repair market in the United States, and the impact that manufacturers’ repair restrictions have on small and local businesses
  3. The effect repair restrictions have on prices for repairing goods, accessibility and timeliness of repairs, and the quality of repairs
  4. The effect of repair restrictions on consumers’ ability to repair warrantied products or to have the products repaired by independent repair shops
  5. The relationship between repair restrictions and the sale of extended warranties by manufacturers
  6. Manufacturers’ justifications for repair restrictions and the factual basis for such justifications
  7. The risks posed by repairs made by consumers or independent repair shops
  8. The liability faced by manufacturers when consumers or independent repair workers are injured while repairing a product
  9. The liability faced by manufacturers when consumers are injured after using or coming into contact with a product that has been repaired improperly by a consumer or independent repair shop
  10. Whether consumers understand the existence and the effects of repair restrictions

Research Submission Process

Empirical research must be submitted no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on April 30, 2019 in order for it to assist FTC staff in framing the issues for the workshop. The research submission portal will remain open, however, until September 16, 2019.

  • Empirical research should be filed at by following the instructions on the Accellion web-based form. As part of your submission through the web-based form, you must include the following information:
    • First and last name, email address, phone number, job title, and affiliation of the person submitting the research
    • Title of the research you are submitting
    • Publication details if the research has been previously published or accepted for publication
    • For any unpublished research, a completed or draft research paper or extended abstract
    • Any additional information you would like to share (optional) and
    • Whether you would like your submission to be kept confidential. Your confidentiality request must identify the specific portions of your submission for which confidential treatment is being requested, and the legal or factual basis for your request. See Commission Rule 4.9(c). If the General Counsel grants your request for confidential treatment, your submission will not be made publicly available, except as required by law. If you do not request confidential treatment of your submission, it may be placed on the FTC’s public record of this matter at, including the name and state of the submitter. (The FTC will make reasonable efforts to redact any personal e-mail or home address, phone numbers, or other personal contact information before placing a submission on the public record.)