A class action lawsuit filed in Chicago has accused John Deere of running an illegal repair monopoly. The lawsuit alleged that John Deere has used software locks and restricted access to repair documentation and tools, making it very difficult for farmers to fix their own agricultural equipment, a problem that Motherboard has documented for years and that lawmakers, the FTC, and even the Biden administration have acknowledged.
The situation is so bad that it’s created a boom in the secondary market. Used tractors are selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars, in part, because they’re easier to repair than modern machines.
Forest River Farms, a farming corporation in North Dakota, filed the recent antitrust lawsuit against John Deere, alleging 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.”
Last year, President Biden signed an executive order aimed at making it easier for everyone to fix their own stuff. He also directed the FTC to formally adopt a pro right-to-repair platform. Legislation has been introduced in congress that would enshrine the right-to-repair and similar laws are working their way through various statehouses across the country. Microsoft’s shareholders have pressed the company to do more for repair and even Apple is backing away from its monopolistic repair practices.