After failing to buy Tinder/OkCupid/Match/PoF competitor Bumble previous year for a reported $450 million, the parent company behind all of the aforementioned popular dating services is now suing the dating app for infringing on two of its patents. And when a Recode contact understood that Match was still interested in acquiring Bumble, it's not hard to see the lawsuit as a pressure tactic to make Bumble accept a buyout offer it would otherwise reject.
A war has begun between two popular dating app companies.
But Match, Tinder and Bumble have a long and interesting history. Gulczynski had also allegedly been working on photo messaging between users during his time at Tinder, another feature now available at Bumble.
Match owns United States patent number 9,733,811 relating to the matching functions of the Tinder app; United States trademark number 4,465,926 for the "Swipe" mark; and numerous design patents related to ornamental aspects of the application, such as the swipeable photograph cards. In addition to Tinder, Match Group also owns dating sites OkCupid, Plenty of Fish, and Match.com.More news: US trade groups warn against tariffs on China
But Match may be trying to push the deal along in an unconventional way: A new patent infringement lawsuit filed late Friday in U.S. District court in Waco, Texas.
The phrases "swipe left" and "swipe right" are unregistered trademarks and have "been famous since before Bumble even existed", the suit said.
Match Group alleges Bumble not only copied Tinder's now iconic swipe-based matching interface, but former employees Chris Gulczynski and Sarah Mick stole features for the dating app that were originally developed while they were at Tinder, such as the ability to undo an accidental wrong "swipe left" (rejection) on someone. Wolfe went on to found Bumble, a dating app where women initiate the conversations and bullying and harassment are punished with dismissal.
However, it added that "this case is not about feminism or a business marketed based on feminist themes" as "Match applauds Bumble's efforts at empowering women" and "cares deeply" about women's issues generally.