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Today's autos are chock-full of safety equipment that vastly improves your chances of survival in the event of a crash. And if an automaker wants to achieve the best crash test scores, it has to ensure that parts like bumper beams, air bag sensors and radiator supports perform properly during a collision. But while automakers are concerned about their safety record, in some cases, aftermarket parts makers are more concerned with keeping costs down.

While parts sales don't typically show up in quarterly earnings reports, they can comprise a big chunk of profits. Ford is protecting its parts investment by filing a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington against eight companies that are reproducing Mustang parts without the Blue Oval's consent. Ford parts affected are the hood, bumper, fender, side-view mirror and tail lamp assemblies, which are all covered under Ford's 14-year design patent on design elements. Ch