State of Repair is motherboards exploring the home improvement culture, device repair, property, and the forces struggling to lock down access to the things you own.
McDonald’s McFlurries are delicious, but the machine that makes them is collapses the whole time. The problem occurs so often that someone built a bot to keep track of which machines are broken at all 14,000 McDonald’s locations in the United States. The problems have been occurring less recently, in part because an independent company called Kytch has developed a device to help McDonald’s franchise owners fix the ice machines and keep the McFlurries running.
Taylor had a monopoly on ice machine repairs prior to Kytch and has attempted – according to a lawsuit filed by Kytch – to maintain that monopoly by telling McDonald’s franchisees that the use of Kytch equipment would be “serious human injuryHowever, on July 30, Kytch won a major lawsuit against Taylor when a California judge issued an injunction against Taylor after Kytch alleged that Taylor acquired Kytch Solution Devices to learn its secrets.
According to the injunction petition, Kytch believes Taylor tricked a McDonald’s franchisee and member of the National Supply Leadership Council, who tests new products for McDonald’s, into purchasing a Kytch device for the company, who then dismantle it could. Trade secret information. ”
According to the court document, Taylor’s COO admits that he tried to obtain a Kytch device “to assess and assess its potential technology-related impact on our soft serve machine – for example, whether the Kytch device’s radio frequency is ours Software signal, or whether the Kytch device would drain our software’s power source and / or cause it to malfunction, “but denied that Taylor was digging it for trade secrets or even” requiring such information. “
As reported for the first time by WIRED, the focus of the story is a long run cold War That explains why often you can’t get a McFlurry when you want to. Taylor’s ice machines are an absolute highlight Repair nightmare. When they break down, only a certified Taylor repair technician can fix the machine, which can result in weeks with the McFlurrys not flowing at McDonald’s.
Some overworked fast food workers have learned various tricks in order to Bypass plumbing and safety measures on the Taylor machines that made the ice flow but could also make people sick. Enter Kytch, a company that makes a diagnostic tool that gives McDonald’s franchise owners better control over their McFlurry machines. It collects data and enables them to perform simple repairs such as replacing defective equipment or cleaning the machine without the need to call in a Taylor-certified technician.
According to a lawsuit filed by Kytch after Taylor received one of the Kytch devices from a McDonald’s franchise, Taylor told McDonald’s and its franchisees that the Kytch machines were dangerous and they should no longer use them. At the same time, Taylor began work on his own version of the Kytch system, according to court documents.
“These guys have been really effective in deterring all of our customers and investors, so we hope the public will support our case in the name of justice, the right to repair and humanity,” Kytch co-founder Jeremy O’Sullivan told Motherboard. “We still have some die-hard customers who stay with us. Although few compared to what we once had before McDonald’s and Taylor called our product dangerous. “
Ice machine maker Taylor must now surrender all of its illicitly acquired Kytch Solution Devices within 24 hours of the court order. “Defendants may not use, copy, disclose or otherwise make available any information, including formulas, samples, compositions, programs, devices, methods, techniques or processes obtained from them,” the court document states.
“We’re optimistic that the truth will prevail,” Kytch co-founder Melissa Nelson told Motherboard. “It’s disgusting that so much effort has been put into stealing our trade secrets, destroying our business and getting in the way of kitchens being modernized. Kytch is only a small part of the broader right to repair movement. But our case makes it clear that the time has come to end shady business practices that generate hundreds of millions of dollars in unnecessary repair fees from “certified” technicians. “
Taylor did not respond to Motherboard’s request for comment.