A Startup Company That Attempted to 'Fix' McDonald's Broken Ice Cream Machines Is Now Suing the Chain for $900 Million
Another week, another chance to dunk on McDonald's for its broken ice cream machines. Today, Jack in the Box announced a takeover of the McBroken website, which tracks which McDonald's locations have out-of-service equipment. For the next month, visitors to the site can still check the ice cream status at their local McDonald's, but they'll also be directed to the closest Jack in the Box location.
"Since McDonald's launched the Shamrock Shake earlier this month, McBroken, in partnership with Jack in the Box, reports that over 10 [percent] of McFlurry machines have been broken on average nationally," Jack in the Box said in a statement. "When it comes to ice cream, even being disappointed 1 [percent] of the time is way too much."
On top of that, McDonald's has been sued by Kytch, the tech startup that created a diagnostic device that could troubleshoot the Taylor brand ice cream machines that McDonald's uses. Last summer, Kytch filed a lawsuit against Taylor, alleging that the company had attempted to acquire a Kytch Solution device in order to reverse-engineer its own version.
In July, a judge issued a temporary restraining order against Taylor, ordering the company to turn over any Kytch Solution it had obtained, and warned Taylor that it "must not use, copy, disclose, or otherwise make available in any way information, including formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or process obtained by any of them."
In both its lawsuit against Taylor and in its suit against McDonald's, Kytch's founders allege that the two companies spread "false information" about the Kytch Solution. "Together they fabricated bogus 'safety' claims to mislead Kytch's customers into believing that safety testing determined that the Kytch Solution would cause 'serious human injury' to users — claims that are, and that McDonald's and Taylor both knew at the time to be, demonstrably false," Kytch's attorneys wrote in their most recent legal filing.
Kytch attorney Daniel Watkins alleges that Taylor and McDonald's both attempted to push Kytch out of business. "McDonald's infiltrated Kytch's confidential product trial to access Kytch's technology, while at the same time lying to consumers about Kytch's purported lack of safety," Watkins said in a statement. "But Kytch's safety record is clear: Kytch has never received a single complaint about the safety of the Kytch Solution, its product undergoes rigorous testing by independent labs, and it has robust safety features that were specifically designed to enhance the safety of McDonald's soft-serve machines. McDonald's knew this, but it did not want Kytch to gain traction in the market."
Kytch's co-founders Melissa Nelson and Jeremy O'Sullivan are seeking at least $900 million in damages. "They've tarnished our name. They scared off our customers and ruined our business," Nelson told Wired. "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."
In a statement sent to Food & Wine, McDonald's USA said that the allegations in the lawsuit were "meritless."
"McDonald's owes it to our customers, crew and franchisees to maintain our rigorous safety standards and work with fully vetted suppliers in that pursuit," the company said. "Kytch's claims are meritless, and we'll respond to the complaint accordingly."