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In contract law, a warranty has various meanings but generally means a guarantee or promise[1] which provides assurance by one party to the other party that specific facts or conditions are true or will happen. This factual guarantee may be enforced regardless of materiality[2] which allows for a legal remedy if that promise is not true or followed.

Although warranties are used in many contractual circumstances, they are a common feature in consumer law for automobiles or real estate purchases. For example, new car sales typically include a factory warranty which guarantees against the malfunction of the car for a certain time period. In real estate transactions, a general warranty deed may promise good title to a parcel of land while a limited warranty provides a limited guarantee of good title.

A warranty may be express or implied, depending on whether the warranty is explicitly provided (typically written) and the jurisdiction. Warranties may also state that a particular fact is true at one point in time or that the fact will be continue into the future (a "promissory" or continuing warranty).

Lifetime warranty

A lifetime warranty is usually a guarantee on the lifetime of the product on the market rather than the lifetime of the consumer, although it can be defined in various ways.[6] If a product has been discontinued and is no longer available, the warranty may last a limited period longer. For example: the Cisco Limited Lifetime Warranty currently lasts for five years after the product has been discontinued.[1]

Extended warranty

In addition to standard warranties on new items, third-parties or manufacturers may sell extended warranties (2 to 5 year extended warranties). These extend the warranty for a further length of time. However, these warranties have terms and conditions which may not match the original terms and conditions. For example, these may not cover anything other than mechanical failure from normal usage. Exclusions may include commercial use, "acts of God", owner abuse, and malicious destruction. They may also exclude parts that normally wear out such as tires and lubrication on a vehicle.

Breach of warranty

Warranties are violated when the promise is broken or the goods are not as expected. The seller may honor the warranty by making a refund or a replacement. The statute of limitations depends on the jurisdiction and contractual agreements. In the United States, the Uniform Commercial Code § 2-725 provides for a four-year time limit, which can be limited to one year by contract, starting from the date of delivery or if future performance is guaranteed from the date of discovery. Refusing to honor the warranty may be an unfair business practice. In the United States, breach of warranty lawsuits may be distinct from revocation of contract suits; in the case of the breach of warranty, the buyer's item is repaired or replaced while breach of contract involves returning the item to the seller.[9]

Some warranties require that repairs be undertaken by an authorized service provider. In such cases, service by non-authorized personnel or company may void (nullify) the warranty.

If the defective product causes injury, this may be a cause of action for a product liability lawsuit (tort). Strict liability may be applied.[2]

Some examples include but are not limited to:

  • Operators knowingly damaging devices and covering it up as machine failure.

References

  1. "Cisco Limited Lifetime Hardware Warranty Terms". Retrieved 2008-09-10.
  2. Davis T. (2009). UCC Breach of Warranty and Contract Claims: Clarifying the Distinction. Baylor Law Review.

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