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How Patent Trolls and Insurers Tried To Kill the First Windshield Crack Repair Kit

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The first Windshield Crack Repair Kit was put on the market in February 1990. This was the first windshield repair kit that had custom made long crack repair tools and windshield repair resins, which is something the industry had never seen before. It was sold as a business opportunity with an ad in Entrepreneur Magazine. On the day the magazine went out in February 1990, the phone started ringing at 5:00 a.m. and was still ringing at 1:00 a.m. It was like I had won the lottery.

Going back, I (Richard Campfield) had started a mobile windshield repair business in Riverside County, California years earlier in October of 1986. Before I purchased a windshield repair kit though I put an ad for windshield repair in the local Pennysaver in order to check out the local market for windshield repair. Of the 21 calls received off the Pennysaver ad, 18 were for cracks and only 3 for chips. It was evident from the get-go that the consumer demand for crack repair far exceeded that for chip repair. Problem was none of the windshield repair kits on the market had offered the technology to repair long cracks. I bought a kit anyway and figured I would figure it out for myself, which I did a few years later. That was when I put the first windshield crack repair kit together, filed for a patent on the process, and put an ad in Entrepreneur Magazine.

For the first two years, life was bliss. The American dream had been accomplished in a country born of freedom and free enterprise with laws that protected little guys, small businesses, and competition. By the third year things started getting a little more complicated because direct competitors selling windshield repair kits could not compete with Ultra Bond, so they began copying or falsely advertising they could do what Ultrabond could do. In order to prevent multiple patent infringement lawsuits, I agreed to a re-examination at the patent office. This allowed multiple competitors to submit declarations and affidavits in an attempt to invalidate the patent on long crack windshield repair.

Ultimately, I prevailed. The patent office issued me a Re-Examination certificate on the patent - a shield of armor that would help in the future if I had to file patent infringement lawsuits down the road. I figured at that time direct competitors and patent trolls would be my only problem. Beating the competition legally, fair and square, was just fine with me. After all, why should consumers be forced to spend more money on windshield replacement when they could save hundreds of dollars on a professional DIY windshield repair kit instead? Turns out, there's a very good reason: when consumers are forced to spend more money, insurers, windshield manufacturers and auto glass companies can increase profits at their expense.

During the mid-1990s, things got really complicated. That was when the other side of the auto glass industry affected by these new windshield crack repair kits went on the attack. You see, windshields are the number one auto insurance claim in the United States. Our new windshield crack repair kit stepped on some pretty big toes. A windshield with a long crack no longer required a replacement. And when a crack repair is chosen by the vehicle owner, a windshield manufacturer or large auto glass company loses a valuable sale of a windshield.

Large auto glass companies, glass manufacturers, and PVB manufacturers formed a committee through the National Glass Association in 1994 attempting to attack the safety of crack repair and to write a new standard to eliminate all professional and DIY windshield crack repair (and almost all chip repairs too). However, attacking the safety of windshield crack repair ended up exploding in the committee's face, as independent lab tests that Ultra Bond had done before all this showed definitively that windshield crack repair passed the same federal standards required of a new windshield. In fact, mechanical strength tests scored higher than new glass, meaning a long crack repair in a windshield actually increased the flexural strength of the windshield.

But this failed attempt did not stop the windshield manufacturers. They then went to the insurance companies and proposed to be their Third Party Administrator (TPA) for their auto glass claims for practically nothing - a blatant conflict of interest that reeked of antitrust, racketeering, and deception, as this would allow windshield manufacturers to interfere with competition and steer repairs into replacements. For the insurance company, this allowed them to eliminate the administrative costs of auto glass claims as well. Administrative costs are not counted toward claim costs and cannot be recouped through insurance premiums, so the consumer saves nothing from insurers saving administrative costs. Insurance companies were finally able to terminate that entire department and hundreds of employees that handled auto glass claims. Those savings were pure profit. These windshield manufacturer TPAs such as Safelite would boycott crack repair, and many of those small businesses making a living with a windshield crack repair kit would be forced into offering windshield replacements instead.

I have been fighting this illegal TPA set up in federal court for years. I have a federal lawsuit filed against Safelite for false and misleading advertising to consumers and insurance companies that a long crack in a windshield cannot be repaired. Now, the inventor who put the first windshield crack repair kit on the market, instead of living the American dream, has had a career in the legal system - hoping and waiting for a judge to uphold the laws that protect free enterprise, competition, and consumers. I have faith that this will happen in the very near future.


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References

   FAQ
   Before/After Photos
   Incorrect Resin Photos
   Correct Resin Photos
   Fundamentals of Windshield Repair Adhesives
   Repairable Windshield Damage
   Windshields are Made to Crack
   Windshields Repair Standard (ROLAGS)

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