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John Deere Monopoly on Repairs for Its Equipment Class Action

This antitrust class action alleges that Deere & Company, which does business as John Deere, has acquired a monopoly on repairs of its agricultural equipment. The computerized engine control units (ECUs) built into the equipment, the complaint alleges require specific tools and software that Deere has not made accessible to independent repair shops or owners who would like to do the repairs themselves. Deere dealers are also forbidden from giving others access to these tools and software, the complaint says, meaning that they are the only ones who can make repairs and allowing them to make “supracompetitive profits” for these services.

The class for this action is all persons and entities living in the US who, between January 18, 2010 and the present, bought Deere repair services for Deere tractors from John Deere or its authorized dealers or technicians.

John Deere has the largest share of the market for agricultural machinery in the US, the complaint claims, even as it has come to rely more and more on technology. At this point, proprietary tools and software are required to make or complete repairs.

“For example,” the complaint alleges, “an owner of a Tractor may be able to replace the transmission on their equipment, but that Tractor will not operate unless proprietary John Deere Software ‘approves’ the newly-installed part.” Thus even when skilled people make repairs, if they do not have software that can recognize the repair, the machine will not operate.

The complaint alleges, “Deere has deliberately made this necessary Software unavailable to individual owners and independent repair shops. Instead, Deere makes the full Software available only to Deere dealerships and technicians, who are not permitted by Deere to sell it.”

Deere has an interest in protecting its repair monopoly, the complaint claims: “Deere’s business for its Repair Services is three to six times more profitable than its sales of original equipment.”

According to the complaint, “a trade group representing Deere made a highly-publicized promise in 2018 to make the necessary Software and tools available by January 2021, [but] Deere has failed to follow through on this promise.” In effect, the complaint says, the requirement for repairs to be done only by Deere repair services is a tying arrangement.

This requirement to use only Deere repair services is made even more inconvenient and expensive for equipment owners, the complaint claims, in that Deere has undertaken an “aggressive, forced consolidation of its Dealerships[.]” When owners need a repair, they must now either get the equipment to one of the fewer Deere dealerships existing or pay a repair person to make a house call to service the equipment.

All these things, the complaint alleges, have harmed robust competition in the repair market.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Antitrust

Most Recent Case Event

John Deere Monopoly on Repairs for Its Equipment Complaint

March 12, 2022

This antitrust class action alleges that Deere & Company, which does business as John Deere, has acquired a monopoly on repairs of its agricultural equipment. The computerized engine control units (ECUs) built into the equipment, the complaint alleges require specific tools and software that Deere has not made accessible to independent repair shops or owners who would like to do the repairs themselves. Deere dealers are also forbidden from giving others access to these tools and software, the complaint says, meaning that they are the only ones who can make repairs and allowing them to make “supracompetitive profits” for these services.

John Deere Monopoly on Repairs for Its Equipment Complaint

Case Event History

John Deere Monopoly on Repairs for Its Equipment Complaint

March 12, 2022

This antitrust class action alleges that Deere & Company, which does business as John Deere, has acquired a monopoly on repairs of its agricultural equipment. The computerized engine control units (ECUs) built into the equipment, the complaint alleges require specific tools and software that Deere has not made accessible to independent repair shops or owners who would like to do the repairs themselves. Deere dealers are also forbidden from giving others access to these tools and software, the complaint says, meaning that they are the only ones who can make repairs and allowing them to make “supracompetitive profits” for these services.

John Deere Monopoly on Repairs for Its Equipment Complaint
Tags: Anticompetitive Actions, Antitrust, Repair or Servicing