By Caroline Fuller
Ford Claims Patent Infringement on Import of Aftermarket Parts
Ford Global Technologies LLC of Dearborn, Mich., has filed suit with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), claiming that several companies have violated certain patents held by Ford. The lawsuit is seeking to prevent further importation of parts specific to the F-150 Ford truck. One of the six respondents named in the case, Keystone Automotive Industries Inc. of Pamona, Calif., is said to be in violation of 14 of Ford's patents. The matter will be heard before a judge toward the end of 2006. Ford previously filed suit with the ITC in 2005 with comparable complaints, but the ITC dismissed the case after evidence revealed that Ford was not the original publisher of the design patent.
Brownfields Training Grants Announced
At the close of 2005, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) selected more than 12 communities in 11 states to share a total of $2 million. The money will be given to educational institutions, non-profit organizations, state and local governments and community colleges to help educate individuals living in poor areas around Brownfields sites. Each of the 12 communities is expected to be given a grant of up to $200,000 to expedite the training programs. These grants will not only help to clean up the waste sites, but will provide employment opportunities for citizens in the communities. The EPA has awarded upward of $445 million and 1,280 grants since beginning the Brownfields Program.
California to Calculate Auto Insurance Rates Based on Driver's Record
John Garamendi, California's insurance commissioner, has announced that auto insurers in California must now place more emphasis on their drivers' records rather than ZIP code when configuring rates. Proposition 103, a voter-endorsed proposal in effect since 1988, outlines the factors in which insurance companies may base their rates. The primary factors include driving record, miles driven, and driving experience with the secondary factors including ZIP code. Many argue that for the past 17 years, auto insurers have placed more emphasis on ZIP code rather than considering the primary factors. Since 2003 and through several hearings, Garamendi observed that Proposition 103 was not being used in the intended manner. After notification to major insurers, the California Department of Insurance has stated its intention to enforce Proposition 103 and ensure that it is used properly.
Questions Arise Over EPA Proposals of New Particulate Matter Standards
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is struggling with the agency's new proposed conditions for particulate matter air quality standards. Lowering the 24-hour standard for fine particles from 65 to 35 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3) while keeping the yearly standard at 15 ug/m3 are both part of the new conditions released by the EPA in December 2005. Industry concerns have risen over the costs of such new implementations while environmentalists and several EPA scientific advisers are not satisfied with the extent of the new standards. However, the EPA is optimistic that these new standards could help to enforce new pollution controls in counties across the nation. EPA officials say this new approach will be beneficial in implementing the first step in the development of region-specific air quality modeling.
ASA Hosts EPA Paint Team
The Automotive Service Association hosted a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency team from the Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards in Research Triangle Park, N. C., for a collision shop visit in Las Vegas. ASA leaders from around the country attended the briefing at the Las Vegas collision facility. EPA officials and shop owners discussed training and equipment as it relates to automotive refinishing products.
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