The Frankfurt Regional Court recently decided a “test case” brought by the German association of the independent distributors of automotive replacement parts (GVA) against Kia on independent distributors’ rights to access vehicle specific data. Interestingly, the case was not about access to the VIN (vehicle identification number)-based replacement parts data as such – as OEMs are obliged to provide independent distributors access to this data under Art. 6 of Reg. 715/2007/EG anyway – but rather about the format of the data.

The court ruled that independent distributors have a right to be provided with data in electronic form for direct electronic further processing, allowing for VIN-based replacement parts identification. This way, the court is making sure that independent distributors will not be excluded from the replacement parts markets and ensures effective competition. As these markets have traditionally been yielding high margins for the OEMs, this judgment might well end up being a major blow – and another big step towards continuous innovation and towards the ever more increasing digitization of the automotive sector.