France’s supplier association, FIEV, is only rating a possible deal with automakers concerning intellectual property rights as “50:50,” with the battle lines being drawn between the two sides showing no sign of running out of steam.
FIEV (Federation des Industries des Equipements pour Vehicules) is requesting a regime of “total freedom” when it comes to IP rights to visible products such as glass, lighting and mirrors, but the body is meeting fierce resistance from the country’s main manufacturers.
“We have an issue between the automotive suppliers and the car makers,” FIEV president, Claude Cham, told just-auto today at a press conference in Paris to launch next year’s EquipAuto aftermarket exhibition.
“Most of our colleagues, which is essentially FEDA (Federation des Syndicats de la Distribution Automobile), are requesting to have total freedom. We have opposition from the car makers who do not like to open their door totally.
“We are asking as a first step, to recognise we have intellectual rights on some visible parts. We are producing the global design of the car – of course we have total rights. What we want is a possibility to have the freedom for the automotive supplier to sell and distribute some of these parts – we consider it 100% our design.”
France’s competition authority has examined FIEV’s claims for several months now and has indicated it would support French suppliers having around 80% of rights – a position with which Cham says the automakers vehemently disagree: “They are totally unhappy about that,” he said.
“As FIEV president, I have said we are quite satisfied with the conclusion of the [competition] commission and we do not have to comment on [its] methodology.”
For the time being, the issue remains at somewhat of an impasse as the French commission has only issued a recommendation that has yet to be ratified into law, a situation the FIEV president says will allow it to discuss its position with the automakers.
“I hope there will be compromise – it is a 50:50 chance,” said Cham. “If they do not accept our proposition, unfortunately we do not have anything else to negotiate.”
Cham also raised the possibility any solution to the seemingly intractable issue could even come from outside France’s borders, with European courts potentially ruling on the situation.
The FIEV president equally remains confident his members hold most of the IP cards and fired a parting shot across the automakers’ bows.
“The OEMS need an agreement. We do not,” he said.