Despite John Deere signing a memorandum of understanding with the American Farm Bureau Federation, it appears the right-to-repair issue isn’t going away any time soon. In fact, the pressure is only increasing. And that’s likely something John Deere thought it could avoid by signing the MOU.
Remember, the MOU contains a provision that would allow John Deere to withdraw from the agreement if any AFBF member (and there’s a lot of them!) work towards passing laws prohibiting repair restrictions. So is that threat working?
Here’s where we’re at…
DOJ Supports Class-Action Lawsuit on Right-to-Repair
The Department of Justice filed a brief in support of a class-action lawsuit against John Deere. The action, which consolidated a number of individual lawsuits, takes on John Deere’s right-to-repair stance (at least as it stood before the MOU). The court is considering whether to allow the action to continue. DOJ argues it should, because John Deere’s repair restrictions are like a monopoly.
DOJ’s briefing stated:
These various machines, or ‘tractors’ for short, enable American agriculture. When they break or fail to operate and repair markets function poorly, agriculture suffers. Crops waste. Land lies fallow.“DOJ Weighs in on Right to Repair Court Case,” The Scoop, 2/15/23
Right-to-Repair Legislation Still Pending
According to POLITICO, right-to-repair legislation is currently pending in 11 states, including Colorado. Colorado Rep. Brianna Titon, a sponsor of the legislation, believes it has a good chance of passing. And she hopes it will set a national legal precedent.
So far no word on any states withdrawing the pending bills.
Did the MOU Fail?
John Deere’s memorandum of understanding with AFBF was intended to stop the passage of right-to-repair legislation, and stop any legal challenges currently pending. At this point, that hope has yet to materialize. The DOJ doesn’t willy nilly weigh in on pending lawsuits. And legislators aren’t rushing to abandon their efforts.
But it’s super early yet, and there’s still a possibility John Deere could get its way. By the way, John Deere maintains that 98% of repairs are possible without using an authorized dealer, because the equipment’s software (which is subject to copyright laws) usually isn’t the problem. Apparently that argument is falling on deaf ears.