Heavy equipment manufacturers Caterpillar, Komatsu and Volvo
have been hit with an anti-trust lawsuit in the US for anticompetitive
conspiracy and collusion.
International Construction Products (ICP) filed the suit in late January, alleging the three global major OEM’s conspired to exclude the new
player from the market and attack their main distribution channel of online
The suit claims that the defendant companies have charged
prices above competitive levels for years because the oligarchal market was protected
by high barriers to entry.
ICP stated Cat, Komatsu and Volvo successfully applied economic
pressure on IronPlanet, an online machinery market, to discontinue sales of ICP
products and breach its contract with the new manufacturer.
The contract between IronPlanet and ICP was key to key to
their strategy to sell discounted Chinese equipment direct to the customer at
prices up to 40 per cent lower than prices commanded by the other companies.
After the launch of ICP in 2014, Cat Auction Services merged
with IronPlanet, and it was alleged this merger was designed to completely shut
off the means of entry to market.
Legal representation for ICP suggests the defendants
threatened to boycott IronPlanet if they ever dealt with ICP or other new
entrants to the market.
ICP allowed customers to use local dealers of their choice
to perform warranty work.
The new company has claimed compensation and punitive
damages, as well as the winding back of the merger between Cat Auction Services
and IronPlanet, and dissolution of exclusivity agreements between the defendants
and their dealers.