That's a Lot of Cones: Ice Cream Machine Hackers Sue McDonald's for $900 Million
The startup firm Kytch, which invented a device to fix McDonald’s infamously broken and glitchy ice cream machines, has sued the fast-food giant for $900 million. Fighting back against the chain’s attacks on their product, a Kytch cofounder said: They’ve tarnished our name. They scared off our customers and ruined our business. They were anti-competitive. They lied about a product that they said would be released.”
Wired reports in an article titled “Ice Cream Machine Hackers Sue McDonald’s for $900 Million,” that the small startup Kytch, which developed a machine that would allow McDonald’s franchise owners to fix their glitchy and regularly disabled ice cream machines without waiting for a technician to repair them, has sued McDonald’s.
McDonalds Ice Cream Cones (Alpha/Flickr)
View of McDonald’s as Washington Union Station seems empty Due To Coronavirus Pandemic as Amtrak has suspended nonstop Acela trains between New York and D.C. due to the coronavirus. March 18, 2020 in Washington, D.C. Credit: mpi34/MediaPunch /IPX via AP
Breitbart News previously reported on Kytch and their small ice cream machine maintenance device which is installed inside a McDonald’s ice cream machine and provides access to features usually only accessible by technicians.
The news of Kytch’s machines and McDonald’s faulty ice cream machines caused enough of a stir to result in an FTC investigation into the McDonald’s ice cream machines and the degree of repair rights that McDonald’s franchise owners have.
McDonald’s worked quickly to close Kytch out of its potential customer market, warning franchise owners not to use the device and that it could cause “injury” and possibly void warranties. Now Kytch is fighting back and demanding almost a billion dollars in damages.
Late Tuesday night, Kytch filed a long-expected legal complaint against McDonald’s, accusing the company of false advertising and tortious interference in its contracts with customers. Kytch’s cofounders, Melissa Nelson and Jeremy O’Sullivan, are asking for no less than $900 million in damages.
Since 2019, Kytch has sold a phone-sized gadget designed to be installed inside McDonald’s ice cream machines. Those Kytch devices would intercept the ice cream machines’ internal communications and send them out to a web or smartphone interface to help owners remotely monitor and troubleshoot the machines’ many foibles, which are so widely acknowledged that they’ve become a full-blown meme among McDonald’s customers. The two-person startup’s new claims against McDonald’s focus on emails the fast food giant sent to every franchisee in November 2020, instructing them to pull Kytch devices out of their ice cream machines immediately.
Kytch cofounder Melissa Nelson says the emails didn’t just result in McDonald’s ice cream machines remaining broken around the world. (About one in seven of the machines in the US remained out of commission on Monday according to McBroken.com, which tracks the problem in real time.) They also kneecapped Kytch’s fast-growing sales just as the startup was taking off. “They’ve tarnished our name. They scared off our customers and ruined our business. They were anti-competitive. They lied about a product that they said would be released,” Nelson says. “McDonald’s had every reason to know that Kytch was safe and didn’t have any issues. It was not dangerous, like they claimed. And so we’re suing them.”
Wired asked McDonald’s for a comment on the situation last spring, to which the company replied: “Kytch’s software includes a remote operation function, and with this feature, we believe anyone cleaning, operating or repairing our shake machines (like restaurant crew members or maintenance technicians) could potentially be injured if the equipment is turned on remotely.”
In another statement, McDonald’s said: “Nothing is more important to us than food quality and safety, which is why all equipment in McDonald’s restaurants is thoroughly vetted before it’s approved for use,” the statement read. “After we learned that Kytch’s unapproved device was being tested by some of our franchisees, we held a call to better understand what it was and subsequently communicated a potential safety concern to franchisees. There’s no conspiracy here.”
However, Kytch claims that the safety warnings McDonald’s has distributed about Kytch’s device are unfounded and that its devices were certified to meet Underwriter’s Laboratory safety standards by the product testing firm Intertek.
Read more at Wired here.