If you’ve ever tried to order a McFlurry from your local McDonald’s only to find that the fast food’s soft serve machine is conveniently broken, well, you’re not alone. According to “McBrokenreal-time machine tracking. An Alameda-based startup named Kytch has created a device aimed at bringing that percentage down to zero — an ambition that McDonald’s crushed.
Now Kytch is filing complaint against the fast food giant.
The startup filed a legal complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware on Tuesday seeking $900 million in damages. The complaint alleges that McDonald’s interfered with contracts with Kytch’s customers and accuses the restaurant chain of false advertising.
Kytch, founded in 2019 by Melissa Nelson and Jeremy O’Sullivan, has built small devices to get inside chronically broken soft-serve machines, made by McDonald’s partner The Taylor Co. The devices allow users solve well-documented machine problems using a smart phone. Kytch’s customers were McDonald’s franchisees, who operate tens of thousands of McDonald’s locations worldwide.
McDonald’s, however, didn’t like this. In its complaint, Kytch alleged that the company sent emails to each franchisee in November 2020 in which McDonald’s advised them to immediately stop using Kytch’s devices. The emails, which Kytch said hurt the startup’s sales, allegedly said the devices violated machine warranties, could cause “serious human injury” and give Kytch access to “confidential information.” Kytch argues in the complaint that those safety warnings were inaccurate, aimed at discrediting the startup and giving Taylor more business.
“Taylor has intentionally created ‘equipment reliability problems’ for years, and its repair and maintenance business has brought in hundreds of millions of dollars in repair costs that Taylor himself has caused,” reads -on in the complaint.
In its first complaint filed in May 2021, Kytch claimed that Taylor used to make a device similar to theirs, leading the manufacturer a restraining order. Now Kytch is suing McDonald’s for cutting off its customer base.
“Kytch was the only product on the market positioned to fix McDonald’s soft serve machines,” the complaint reads.
Protocol has reached out to McDonald’s to comment on the lawsuit and will update if or when the company responds.
Amid Kytch’s legal battle with Taylor last year, a McDonald’s spokesperson said in a statement to Wired:
“Nothing is more important to us than food quality and safety, which is why all equipment at McDonald’s restaurants is thoroughly checked before being approved for use. After learning that Kytch’s unapproved device was being tested by some of our franchisees, we held a call to better understand what it was and then communicated a potential safety issue to franchisees.There is no conspiracy here.
Although the lawsuit does not directly address the right to repair, Kytch’s fight against McDonald’s raises the question of whether product owners should have the means and equipment to repair their own devices, or whether these fixes should be in the hands of the companies themselves. .