ACV Auctions Inc. has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Manheim, ADESA, ServNet Auction Group and Independent Auction Group, alleging the companies conspired to dampen the company’s ability to compete.
The 51-page complaint filed in U.S. District Court in New York claimed the competitors collaborated to prevent ACV Auctions from gaining access to AutoIMS, a remarketing platform used by auto industry commercial consignors.
The suit also named Auto Auction Services Corp., a joint venture of the four companies and provider of the AutoIMS platform. National Auto Auction Association (NAAA) also is a defendant in the lawsuit. ACV Auctions maintains the trade association inconsistently enforced its physical auction requirement to “preclude membership to certain digital-only platforms like ACV, which pose an existential competitive threat to NAAA’s controlling members.”
The lawsuit alleges ACV competitors denied the company access to the AutoIMS platform in two ways:
1. The NAAA board of directors made up of Manheim, ADESA, ServNet and Independent Auction Group representatives denied ACV’s application for membership in late 2018 over a lack of physical auctions, which prevented the company from getting an AutoIMS license.
2. ACV alleges the companies also denied a direct request for an AutoIMS license through the Auto Auction Services Corp. joint venture.
NAAA reportedly denied membership because ACV is a digital-only company. However, the lawsuit points out that physical auction companies have branched into digital auction tools as well.
“These digital offerings have not impacted Manheim’s NAAA membership or its AutoIMS license, showing NAAA’s discriminatory application of its bylaws,” ACV Auctions said in the complaint.
The lawsuit alleges that commercial consignors using AutoIMS will not work with ACV because the company lacks access to the platform. ACV’s lawsuit alleges it contacted Hyundai Capital, the financial services unit of automaker Hyundai, about using its digital marketplace, but Hyundai Capital refused because ACV lacked access to AutoIMS. In another example, ACV reports Santander Consumer USA ended its contract with them in less than a year because the financing company could not work outside of AutoIMS, the complaint said.
ACV has asked for injunctive relief, which includes a court order to require NAAA to grant ACV membership and one ordering Auto Auction Services Corp. to grant a license to AutoIMS.