Yamaha Motor Corp. USA has filed an antitrust suit against Bass Tracker Inc. of Springfield, Mo., claiming that the boat maker's plan to sell its vessels only through Mercury and Mariner outboard motor dealers will cut into Yamaha's outboard motor sales.
According to Russ Jura, attorney for Cypress-based Yamaha, the boat maker has decreed that only authorized Mercury and Mariner outboard motor dealers will be able to sell boats built by Bass Tracker, a major maker of medium-priced boat-and-trailer packages.
The suit claims that customers now will have no choice but to install either Mercury or Mariner outboards on boats built by Bass Tracker.
Officials at Bass Tracker could not be reached for comment on Yamaha's late-Monday announcement.
Jura said the move by Bass Tracker, scheduled to take effect Aug. 1, will be a major obstacle in Yamaha's bid to secure more dealers.
"What this has done is prevent us from signing up additional dealers," Jura said. "Tracker is a very respectable boat manufacturer,and they do sell a lot of boats."
Yamaha is seeking treble damages for any losses the company suffers as a result of the Bass Tracker move. Jura said it was too early to predict how deeply Bass Tracker's planned move will cut into Yamaha's sales and its ability to sign dealers.
Yamaha, which has more than 500 dealers nationwide, already has lost at least one prospective dealer because of Bass Tracker's plans, Jura said. He said that 30 to 40 Yamaha dealers now stock Bass Tracker boats.
Jura said he wasn't aware of any other exclusive boat- and motor-maker arrangements like the one that Bass Tracker plans.
In addition to Bass Tracker, the suit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, lists Tracker Marine Corp. and Bass Pro Shops Inc., also of Springfield, Mo., as defendants.