Tinder takes a swipe at Bumble with IP action

23 March 2018

Match, the owner of the Tinder app, has sued Bumble for patent infringement, trade mark infringement, infringement of trade dress, unfair competition and breach of confidentiality.

Scope of the Claim
The claim filed in a Texas Federal Court, asserts infringement of one of Match’s patents by Bumble, relating to the “Matching Process System and Method,” which covers some of the functional innovations embodied in versions of the Tinder app. Match has also asserted a design patent, whereby, broadly, the aesthetic elements of a product are protected.
Moreover, Match has asserted a registered trade mark Reg. No. 4,465,926, for “swipe”, and asserted more generally its ‘iconic’ unregistered rights in such terms as ‘swipe right’ and ‘swipe left’ (both of which are also the subject of registered trade mark applications) and stated that the technology and marketing strategy of the Bumble app amounts to unfair competition.
Further still, Match claims that because several of the senior executives of Bumble, Whitney Wolfe-Herd, Chris Gulczynski, and Sarah Mick, worked at Tinder before starting Bumble, they have taken confidential information acquired whilst employees.
Strategic Move?
Clearly, this is a ‘full fat’ action, and has a lot of causes of action asserted within it. The court documents filed would seem to make a credible case, though of course it is important to see what defence is filed by Bumble before a view can be taken.
All of that said, it may well be that whilst the dispute sounds likely to run for some time, it may well simply be positional ahead of a future commercial deal. Match tried to buy Bumble last year, and this latest move by the company comes amidst reports of an attempted hostile takeover.
Bumble’s response to the issued claim was to issue a press release stating: "We swipe left on you. We swipe left on your multiple attempts to buy us, copy us, and, now, to intimidate us…We'll never be yours. No matter the price tag, we'll never compromise our values."
It remains to be seen whether Bumble really means that or is simply playing hard to get!

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