On 19 September 2019, the Court of Justice held its judgment in Case C-527/18, Gesamtverband Autoteile-Handel eV v. KIA Motors Corporation, on theinterpretation of the first sentence of Article 6(1) of Regulation (EC) No 715/2007. The request has been made in proceedings between Gesamtverband Autoteile-Handel eV (“Gesamtverband”), a German trade association representing wholesalers of motor vehicle parts, and KIA Motors Corporation(“KIA”), a South Korean motor vehicle manufacturer.
For vehicles marketed by KIA, Gesamtverband had a read-only access to a database in which repair and maintenance information for those vehicles were stored. Therefore, it requested the manufacturer to provide also, both it and its members, with information from the database in a form amenable to the onward electronic processing of that information, bringing an action before the Landgericht Frankfurt am Main(Regional Court, Frankfurt am Main, Germany) for it to order KIA to provide that information accordingly.
Consequently, KIA appealed to the Oberlandesgericht Frankfurt am Main(Higher Regional Court, Frankfurt am Main, Germany), which held that according to Article 6(1) of Regulation No 715/2007 solely a read-only access to that information had to be ensured. Against this decision, Gesamtverband brought an appeal before the Bundesgerichtshof(Federal Court of Justice; the referring court), which referred to the Court of Justice for an interpretation of Article 6(1) of Regulation No 715/2007.
With regard to the potential obligation for automotive manufacturers to provide independent operators with access to vehicle repair and maintenance information in a form that is amenable to onward electronic processing, the Court observed that the wording of Article 6 of the Regulation merely states that the format in which that information has to be made available must be standardised. However, the provision should also be considered in light of the context in which it occurs and the objectives pursued by the rules of which it is part. Therefore, the Court established that, despite granting access to the information in such a way as to allow the onward electronic processing of that information would facilitate its use by the independent operators, nothing suggests that those objectives could be achieved only by requiring the automotive manufacturers to provide access to the information at issue in such a format.
Furthermore, the Court established that the fact that an automotive manufacturer opens, for the benefit of authorised dealers and repairers, a further channel for information on the sale of original replacement parts by engaging an information service provider does not constitute access for independent operators that is discriminatory by comparison with the one granted to authorised dealers and repairers.