Legal battle afoot: Deere files lawsuit against AGCO

Deere & Company is taking legal action against fellow farm machinery manufacturer AGCO Corporation (and Precision Planting LLC), claiming that the company has infringed on 12 John Deere patents.

AGCO is best known here in Ireland via brands such as Massey Ferguson, Valtra and Fendt.

According to Deere, the patents relate to “several unique and inventive aspects” of John Deere planting equipment – some of which are part of the technology that Deere refers to as ‘ExactEmerge’.

Complaint filed

Deere filed the complaint in the US District Court in Delaware, asserting that it has “suffered damages because of the infringement”.

The lawsuit claims that certain products made or sold by Precision Planting, including ‘vSet’ seeding mechanisms and SpeedTube products, “infringe” on Deere patents.

AGCO acquired Precision Planting last year.

The patents that Deere is referring to concern technologies for accurate seed placement, uniform seed spacing and even crop emergence at higher planting speeds.

Introduced by Deere in 2014, the ‘ExactEmerge’ planter was designed to address limitations of earlier equipment, with features to allow growers to plant corn and soya bean seeds at speeds up to about 10mph (about double the long-thought limit).

Deere states in its court filing that it has not licensed or otherwise authorised use of its patents by Precision Planting or AGCO.

Trademark colours

In a separate story last year, a US District Court in Kentucky recently ruled in favor of Deere & Company in a lawsuit that was filed to protect the use of the trademark green and yellow colour combination.

The court decision permanently banned the use of the John Deere colours by FIMCO Inc – a South Dakota company that manufactures and markets agricultural sprayers under the ‘Ag Spray Equipment’ brand name.

John Deere

Deere said the lawsuit was part of an ongoing and vigorous effort to protect the company’s trademarks and intellectual property.

The lawsuit asserted that FIMCO’s green and yellow equipment infringed on Deere’s trademark for the colour combination. Deere also claimed that use of the colours by another manufacturer confuses the public as to where the product originated and dilutes the value of the John Deere brand.

The court ruled that the green and yellow colour combination qualified as a “famous” trademark, since as early as the late 1960s. It found in favour of John Deere – on all its claims.