The fast food ice cream cone is the perfect expression of dessert simplicity.
This delicious, perfectly formed dairy swirl so cold you can see the crystals. That cake cone that has absolutely no taste, but you crave it anyway.
It’s appreciable enough, in fact, to really trigger people when they can’t get their hands on their chosen drive-thru.
Take McDonald’s, for example, which is so notorious for its broken ice cream machines and the anger they inspire that they’ve been in the news for years, spawning a boatload of memes in the process.
A 24-year-old software programmer even created a website called McBroken, solely dedicated to finding out if a location’s machine is functional or not.
Now McDonald’s is being sued for the whole situation. But there’s a much, much deeper story behind it, so take a seat and your popcorn.
Why is McDonald’s being sued?
Before we get to that, let’s take a quick dive into the tumultuous history here.
A small company called Kytch that previously created fully automated soft serve machines saw potential in the McDonald’s ice cream problem. In 2019, it released a device of the same name that franchise owners could simply attach to their existing ice cream machines.
The device gave them access to troubleshooting notoriously tricky and troublesome machines, providing a solution that Taylor, the machine’s maker, didn’t even seem capable of fixing.
Considering franchise owners were the ones who paid for Taylor’s failing repair services time and time again, the Kytch provided a well-deserved respite from personal expenses.
McDonald’s, naturally, took notice of Kytch and his “right to repair” sensitivity.
He responded by sending a company-wide email in November 2020 asking his franchises to remove all Kytch devices they had purchased, saying they posed a security risk and that their use will void the machine warranty.
The email also promised a future Taylor device that would provide similar functionality to Kytch (although it would not allow a franchisee to repair their own machines).
This led to Kytch filing of his first lawsuit against Taylorin which he claimed to have “uncovered a repair racket whereby Taylor engineered faulty code that caused machines to malfunction…Taylor’s network of partners profited from millions of dollars in repair costs for the malfunctions that he made”.
On Tuesday, Kytch filed his second lawsuit, this time against McDonalds itself.
What does the lawsuit say?
Kytch’s Trial is a deep dive that you’ll need a lot of time (and brain power) to fully read. But there are a few key things you need to know to grasp the full gravity of it.
The big one, of course, alleges that McDonald’s and Taylor actively worked together to steal Kytch’s ideas and develop their own solution to fix the machines.
He also claims that the two companies worked with franchise owner Tyler Gamble to gain direct access to a Kytch device to use said data for his own efforts.
Beyond that, he alleges the two companies were part of a ‘lucrative scheme’ to ensure ice cream machines broke often, meaning franchise owners would continually need Taylor’s services. – and it was also the only repair company authorized to service the machines.
Kytch’s lawsuit also has a lot more dirt on Taylor’s tough machines, and none of that is good.
One section reveals that they “have a manual switch allowing users to override mandatory pasteurization and brush cleanings. A significant portion of the machines in the Kytch trial operated with this override in violation of public health agency regulations. and food security”.
Understandably, McDonald’s appeal to its franchises to remove the Kytch appliances resulted in what the lawsuit called “disastrous financial consequences” for the small business.
“Customers contacted Kytch within days of the ads and canceled their subscriptions because of McDonald’s false claims,” it read.
“…Kytch had reached a valuation of $50 million in 2020 as it rapidly expanded into fast food restaurants nationwide and its valuation the following year was expected to be exponentially higher,” it reads. .
“Everything changed after the false advertisements, and Kytch was quickly unable to woo investors to help fund its exponential growth trajectory.”
Kytch co-founders Melissa Nelson and Jeremy O’Sullivan are seeking $900 million in damages. TheStreet has reached out to them for comment.