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Deere Named in Class Action Antitrust Lawsuit
USAgNet - 01/21/2022

John Deere is illegally monopolizing the U.S. tractor repair industry, according to a class action antitrust lawsuit filed in Chicago federal court last week. The lawsuit, which was reported in several media outlets, including DTN and Courthouse News, alleges Deere has monopolized the repair service market for its farm equipment with onboard central computers known as engine control units, or ECUs.

The ECUs artificially prevent otherwise knowledgeable mechanics from properly servicing Deere products. This forces Deere customers to rely on the company for their maintenance needs, Courthouse News reported.

The suit seeks damages for farmers who have paid for repairs performed by Deere dealers beginning Jan. 12, 2018, to the present.

"Farmers have traditionally had the ability to repair and maintain their own tractors as needed, or else have had the option to bring their tractors to an independent mechanic. However, in newer generations of its agricultural equipment, Deere has deliberately monopolized the market for repair and maintenance services of its agricultural equipment with ECUs... by making crucial software and repair tools inaccessible to farmers and independent repair shops," the lawsuit claims.

The suit alleges that Deere's network of "highly consolidated independent dealerships" is "not permitted through their agreements" with Deere to provide farmers or repair shops "with access to the same software and repair tools the dealerships have."

"As a result of shutting out farmers and independent repair shops from accessing the necessary resources for repairs, Deere and the dealerships have cornered the Deere repair services market in the United States for Deere-branded agricultural equipment controlled by ECUs and have derived supracompetitive profits from the sale of repair and maintenance services."

The lawsuit alleges John Deere has "deliberately" made software unavailable to individual equipment owners and independent repair shops.

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