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Feds Want to Crack Down on McDonald's Broken Ice Cream Machine Problem

Federal regulators recently filed a joint comment to make the notoriously broken machines easier to fix.

There are six words McDonald's fans know all too well: the ice cream machine is broken. Now, federal regulators are getting involved to make the machines easier to fix.

On March 14, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice's (DOJ) antitrust division submitted a joint comment to the U.S. Copyright Office, requesting an exemption to Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, as reported by The Verge. This copyright law makes it difficult to repair certain devices—like soft serve machines.

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The proposed law expansion applies to "commercial and industrial equipment." This includes commercial soft serve machines, proprietary diagnostic kits, programmable logic controllers, and enterprise IT.

The law currently doesn't allow third-party technicians to fix these devices. The recent filing notes that a broken soft serve machine can result in a McDonald's restaurant losing $625 in sales per day. It also states that a licensed repair technician charges over $300 per 15 minutes in addition to there being "long wait times for authorizer repairs."

The filing reads: "In the Agencies' view, renewing and expanding repair-related exemptions would promote competition in markets for replacement parts, repair, and maintenance services, as well as facilitate competition in markets for repairable products."

mcdonalds soft serve

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This isn't the first time the FTC has gotten involved in the broken ice cream machine issue. In 2021, the agency investigated complaints about the continuously out-of-order machines and reached out to McDonald's franchisees.

The broken ice cream machines later made headlines in 2022, when Kytch, the software company behind the device designed to fix McDonald's ice cream machines, sued the fast-food chain for $900 million. The company alleged that McDonald's was purposefully driving Kytch out of the marketplace and accused the chain of spreading false information about the device's safety.

Additionally, in 2021, Kytch sued Taylor, McDonald's ice cream machine manufacturer, for trade secret infringement. Kytch alleged that Taylor acquired a Kytch device to reverse-engineer for the creation of its own product.

The broken McDonald's ice cream machine has been at the center of jokes and memes for years. There's even a website dedicated to tracking the fast-food giant's broken machines, known as "McBroken." McDonald's has also gotten in on the jokes, previously writing on X, formerly, known as Twitter, "we have a joke about our soft serve machine but we're worried it won't work."

Brianna Ruback
Brianna is a staff writer at Eat This, Not That! She attended Ithaca College, where she graduated with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Communication Studies. Read more about Brianna
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