­Securing the Right to Repair

Ally Winning, European Editor, PSD


To meet Right to Repair regulations, manufacturers must provide spare parts while protecting their own IP and the safety of customers.


Infineon's OPTIGA Authenticate family helps manufacturers meet green regulations


One major part of making products more sustainable is to have them operate over a longer lifetime. As a society we have become used to throwing things away when they are broken, or even when better alternatives come along. A typical example of this type of thinking is the mobile phone, where the majority of people change models every few years as their contract runs out, or even sooner if the phone breaks. That leads to millions of phones either left in drawers, or sent to landfill. Other consumer equipment such as TVs and computers have exactly the same problem.


New equipment requires more resources extracted and energy expended in its manufacture. Often, a simple fix is all that is required to make broken equipment operable so that it can be used for longer, either by the original owner, or passed on to be used by others. Either way, it saves on resources and cuts carbon emissions.


This way of thinking developed because of our cheap access to goods, and because of a trend in the industry that caused designs to be very integrated and almost impossible for an average person to repair without specialist equipment and knowledge. However, the EU has been very proactive in its attempts to promote sustainability, and has passed various pieces of regulations to encourage the practice. For example, its Green Deal is an overarching piece of regulation trying to push all kinds of sustainability. It includes the Right to Repair regulation, which forces manufacturers to make products that can be easily repaired. By definition, Right to Repair means that consumers have the right to the availability of spare parts. As such, manufacturers must meet warranty claims, while also providing spare parts. They also want to protect their brand image, IP and the safety of end users. This is a difficult proposition that can only be achieved through guaranteeing that the spare parts are genuine from the manufacturer itself, or an authorized partner.


Infineon has developed its OPTIGA Authenticate family to help manufacturers meet some of the key challenges of these green regulations. "The OPTIGA Authenticate product family allows authentication of devices, the verification of spare parts and of the genuineness of original products. This enables product safety for end users and helps manufacturing companies meet quality and performance standards”, explains Josef Haid, Distinguished Engineer Security System Architectures Infineon Technologies. "Authenticators also create more security and transparency for consumers, since they can trust the authenticity and quality of devices and spare parts. Due to the increased demand for spare parts, it opens up a new market for the industry, covers potential warranty claims, and prevents counterfeiting at the same time."


OPTIGA Authenticate family members can be used in a wide range of replaceable system components. Using a smartphone as an example, elements such as batteries, displays, camera modules, power adapters, wireless chargers, and headphones can be equipped with authenticators. The OPTIGA Authenticate S security chip is integrated in a component (client) in the host device, allowing the host and client to communicate with one another and authenticate themselves, letting the host verify that the battery is original or that it conforms to certain standards. The authentication process itself is managed by the exchange of certificates, keys, and cryptographic tasks.