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Deer's Max-Emerge Planter Copied
Question: What looks like Deere's popular Max-Emerge planter, does everything the Max-Emerge does, costs about the same, yet isn't a Max-Emerge?
Answer: It's the just-introduced Kinze Row Unit, a deliberate, almost identical reproduction of Deere's best-seller Max-Emerge planter, born out of a long-standing dispute between Jon Kinzenbaw, president and founder of Kinze Mfg., Williamsburg, Iowa, and Deere and Co. It all began about 5 years ago when Kinzenbaw invented a rear-folding toolbar that handles up to 36 rows (20 in. spacing), yet folds in seconds to a narrow 14/ ft. for down the road transport. It's generally conceded among farmers that Kinzenbaw has the best corn-soybean planting toolbar on the market, and that Deere's Max-Emerge is far and away the best planter, accounting for well over 50% of total planter sales. But, what would seem to be the "perfect marriage" of the best toolbar and best planter has been anything but perfect.
Kinze Mfg. and Deere have been at odds over whether Kinze should get any of the Max-Emerge planter units, which Deere has maintained all along are in short supply. Kinze Mfg. sued Deere in 1977 and, in an out of court settlement, was able to buy a limited supply of Max-Emerge units. In 1978, Kinzenbaw ordered another 4,000 units but got only about 3,000, ending up with a huge inventory of toolbars which, without the popular Max-Emerge units to go with them, are "just another piece of iron". (Although his toolbar will accommodate other makes of planting units, there has been very little demand for other makes, says Kinzenbaw.)
Several weeks before planting season began last spring, Kinzenbaw said he received word from Deere that his order for some 3600 planting units was being cancelled because of shortages.
He concedes that Deere did offer to provide about 3,000 row units 6 months later, but that he refused because he couldn't go along with the "9 pages of demands they wanted me to sign as part of the deal."
Late last fall, faced with the prospect of not being able to get MaxEmerge planter units for the 1980 corn planting season, Kinzenbaw decided to counter-attack. Here, as reported in FARM SHOW (Vol. 3, No. 5 issue) was his proposed plan of action:
"If Deere, claiming shortages, won't sell him Max-Emerge seedboxes, he plans to disregard the patent and manufacture them himself. Kinzenbaw has taken apart a Max Emerge planter unit and duplicated its more than 100 parts. What he has in mind is an exact carbon copy of what Deere produces."
Kinzenbaw claims he since has invested close to $1 million to "tool up" to produce the duplicate MaxEmerge planter units. They are being produced under what he calls the "Shortage Specialty Division" of his manufacturing operation.
Two weeks ago, just as this issue of FARM SHOW went to press, Kinze Mfg. was publicly displaying its fully assembled "look alike" planter units carrying the "Kinze" label.
"We made up several thousand units and are completely sold out. In fact, we were all sold out long before we began assembling them," Tom Kinzenbaw, sales manager and Jon's brother, told FARM SHOW. "At this stage, we plan to have a much larger production run available for the 1981 planting season and have started taking orders for our Kinze Row Units."
Tom emphasizes that the Kinze planter is "very similar" to the MaxEmerge but falls short of being an exact carbon copy. "We made a few minor changes and improvements," he points out. He says suggested retail cost of the Kinze (less the toolbar itself) is right at $800 per row, which is about $100 less than the going rate for Deere's Max-Emerge planter units - when they're available. In many cases, farmers have bought complete Deere toolbar and Deere Max-Emerge planter units, then stripped the planter units to mount on a Kinze toolbar. Ironically, some of the several thousand assembled Kinze planter units slated for delivery prior to spring planting have been ordered by Deere dealers who will be putting them on Kinze toolbars.
Meanwhile, Deere and Company has taken steps to "vigorously defend" its patented Max-Em

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1980 - Volume #4, Issue #2