Contributed by: ElyseRomano Thursday, March 29 2018 @ 10:00 am
There’s no love lost between dating app rivals Tinder and Bumble. Shortly after it was revealed that Tinder will enable a Bumble-style ladies-first messaging feature in a future update, news has broken that Tinder is suing Bumble for patent infringement.
Match Group CEO Mandy Ginsberg divulged Tinder’s patent acquisition in a Q4 earnings call[*1] last month.
“On the product front, Tinder has been on the cutting edge of innovation since its inception in 2012, inventing the swipe gesture, which has since become this cultural phenomenon of 'swipe right' and 'swipe left' and that is often imitated on mobile products,” she said.
“Tinder also invented the 'double blind opt-in' whereby two users need to 'like' each other before they can message. In fact, these features are so innovative that Tinder was granted a patent in the dating category by the US Patent & Trademark office which we think is valuable."
Axios[*2] located the patent, which is dated October 21, 2013 — seven months before Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe Herd left Tinder to launch her competing company. Herd is not listed amongst the "inventors" on the application (nor, interestingly, is Justin Mateen, Herd's former Tinder boss who she sued for sexual harassment).
A month has passed since the earnings call and Tinder’s intentions are now crystal clear. Match Group filed a lawsuit on Friday, March 16, that accuses Bumble of infringing on two patents held by Tinder: one related to the use of swipe cards and mutual matching, the other pertaining to an “ornamental aspect” of Tinder’s app. Match contends that some of Bumble’s features were “learned of and developed confidentially while at Tinder.”
A spokesperson for Match said that the group “has invested significant resources and creative expertise in the development of our industry-leading suite of products” and is “prepared when necessary to enforce our patents and other intellectual property rights against any operator in the dating space who infringes upon those rights.”
Some have suggested a different motive is at the root of the lawsuit. Match Group reportedly offered to purchase Bumble for $450 million last summer and was refused, leading many to theorize that the lawsuit is a bargaining chip or an act of revenge.
Bumble has not yet commented publicly on the matter, but an appearance by Herd at SXSW hints at how she feels about her former company.
"I actually don't think about Tinder," she said in a conversation with Gayle King at the Austin festival. "I don't believe revenge is part of my agenda. I'm a firm believer that just like hate spreads hate, love and kindness spread love and kindness. We're doing our own thing."