Feds Rule On McDonald’s Lawsuit About Fixing Broken Ice Cream Machines

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Julianna Frieman Contributor
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The federal government ruled Thursday that McDonald’s should be allowed to fix its broken ice cream machines using third-party hacking devices.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the antitrust unit of the Department of Justice (DOJ) agreed that preventing business owners from hiring third-party repairmen limits competition and increases repair costs, a new filing revealed, according to a joint filing.

Both agencies await approval from the U.S. Copyright Office to grant McDonald’s an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that would allow them to repair “commercial and industrial equipment,” the filing said. Currently, businesses may wait up to 90 days for an authorized technician to fix the machines.

Third-party repairmen should be able to work on “commercial soft serve machines, propriety diagnostic kits, programmable logic controllers, and enterprise IT,” the agencies wrote. (RELATED: Fruity Secret Ingredient In McDonald’s Sweet ‘N Sour Sauce Shocks Customers)

“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. Promoting competition in repair markets benefits consumers and workers because it makes it easier and cheaper to fix things you own,” they wrote in the filing.

“Eliminating repair restrictions can lower the cost of repairs, improve access to repair services, and minimize costly and inconvenient delays. Unnecessary repair restrictions have the opposite effect. They can reduce consumer choice, raise repair costs, and drive independent repair shops out of business by denying them access to key inputs,” the filing continued.

McDonald’s has been notorious for having issues with its soft-serve machines, which often are out of order, the website McBroken showed. Restaurant franchise owners lose approximately $625 in sales from broken machines per day, the agencies estimated in their filing.

This is not the first time McDonald’s restaurants experienced issues impacting their revenue. McDonald’s locations across the world were forced to temporarily shut down Friday over a “technology system outage.”