The U.S. Department of Justice has backed agricultural equipment manufacturer John Deere’s “right-to-repair” lawsuit. The department requested that an Illinois federal court not dismiss antitrust litigation filed against the company, which is accused of attempting to monopolize product repair. This comes as 11 states consider “right-to-repair” legislation for farm equipment.
While the legal complaint alleges that Deere & Company and its affiliated dealerships attempted to unlawfully control the repair of John Deere equipment, such as tractors and combines, using onboard computers known as electronic control units, or ECUs, John Deere is under increasing pressure to allow customers and independent repair shops to repair their own tractors and equipment.
Current John Deere practices require authorized technicians to perform repairs, which may result in high fees and lengthy wait times. Farmers have been unable to use their equipment as a result, causing significant delays in their work.
A farmer in Nebraska was unable to repair his tractor due to the company’s strict policies. A technician was called out to the farm to upgrade the software, which anyone should be able to do. According to the complaint, John Deere monopolizes and restricts the market for repair and maintenance services by designing John Deere equipment to require company-controlled software for problem diagnosis and maintenance functions. This critical software is only accessible to authorized technicians, preventing independent repair shops and farmers from servicing John Deere equipment.
The right to repair movement has gained traction as consumers become increasingly frustrated with the high cost and limited availability of repairs for their electronics and other devices. Customers should be able to repair their own equipment or take it to an independent repair shop, according to the movement, and companies like John Deere should not be able to monopolize the repair market.
Furthermore, Apple has fought the right to repair movement, and the company successfully lobbied against a right-to-repair bill in New York. The bill would have required companies like Apple to provide repair manuals, parts, and tools to consumers and independent repair shops.
The sources for this piece include articles in TheRegister, APNews.