Legal

Tinder’s Latest Legal Entanglements: Trademark Infringement and Alleged Illegal Payoffs

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Near the end of September, Tinder had a litigious week. News of two legal matters - one new, one ongoing - that involve the dating platform and its parent company recently came to light.

Tinder has issued two complaints alleging trademark infringement to the startup dating app Wild. The complaints concern Wild’s original logo, which featured a mirror image of Tinder’s flame design in place of the dot over the ‘i’. Match Group, owner of the Tinder brand, sent an email to Wild demanding that the logo be changed:

"Your application uses, without authorization, the 'Flame Outline' design/logo, a trademark owned and controlled by Tinder, Inc… As we seek an amicable and swift resolution to this matter, we ask that your app immediately cease using any Tinder trademarks of any other name or mark which is likely to lead consumers to mistakenly believe its products or services are associated with Tinder or authorized by Tinder. If satisfactory modification is not made to address these violations, we ask that your application be removed from the platform."

FTC Sues Match Group For Fraud

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The Federal Trade Commission announced it is suing Match Group for using fake notifications to trick users into paying for subscriptions to Match.com. The FTC also alleges that Match Group unfairly exposed consumers to the risk of fraud and engaged in other allegedly deceptive and unfair practices to induce users to subscribe and keep them subscribed to the dating service.

Match.com allows users to create a profile and use some of the platform’s features for free. However, users are prohibited from responding to messages from admirers unless they upgrade to a higher membership tier with a subscription fee. According to the FTC’s complaint, Match sent misleading advertisements to users with free accounts stating that someone had expressed interest in them and encouraging them to subscribe to the service to view the message and the identity of its sender. Many users purchased subscriptions as a result of these deceptive ads, believing they were going to communicate with a real user who could be “the one.”

Russia Launching New Dating App Lovina on its Most Popular Social Platform

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Russia’s largest social media platform VKontakte is going head-to-head with Tinder and Badoo by launching its own dating app.

According to The Moscow Times, VKontakte’s Lovina is a video-centric dating app, offering a video chat option to people who like each other over the app and a “carousel” of short videos for a quick communication between random users who are browsing through the app. Executives behind Lovina say that providing video as the main way for users to connect is a better method than what traditional dating apps like Tinder offer, because video is much more revealing than photos or a written profile. Plus, there’s less chance of someone faking a video compared to photos.

Facebook Dating Launches in US as Privacy Concerns Loom

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Facebook Dating now available in the United States
Image: Facebook

Facebook Dating made its much-anticipated debut in the US on September 5th, but concerns about its privacy issues have overshadowed the excitement in media coverage of the app.

Facebook was recently ordered by the Federal Trade Commission to pay about $5 billion in fines for privacy lapses, including its maligned partnership with Cambridge Analytica leading up to the 2016 elections. And most recently, the Attorneys General of eight different states have launched an anti-trust investigation of the company, specifically concerning the company’s privacy practices and purchases of WhatsApp and Instagram.

Still, Facebook Dating is betting on its wealth of personal user data as a competitive advantage for creating better matches to directly compete with apps like Tinder. (Match Group saw its shares fall 5 percent on the day Facebook Dating was launched, a sign of investor concerns about the new competition.)

Fomer Tinder Exec Files New Lawsuit Alleging Sexual Assault By Ex-CEO

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Rosette Pambakian
Rosette Pambakian

Rosette Pambakian, former Tinder VP of marketing and communications, is suing the company and its ex-CEO. Pambakian filed a lawsuit on Monday, August 5, accusing the former CEO of Match Group and Tinder, Gregory Blatt, of harassing and sexually assaulting her at a company holiday party in 2016. The suit also alleges that the company fired Pambakian in retaliation for going public with her accusations.

Pambakian says the assault took place at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills. According to the lawsuit, Blatt approached Pambakian at the party and made sexual comments to her “in a lewd voice.” Pambakian says she went to a hotel room upstairs with two colleagues to get away from Blatt, but later that night, he found his way to their room. When he entered, he groped and kissed Pambakian while the two colleagues, one of whom was Blatt’s executive assistant, witnessed the nonconsensual encounter. Together they distracted Blatt until he finally left in a car service, the complaint says.

Grindr Moves Forward With IPO Plans After U.S. Government Drops Opposition

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Gay dating app Grindr is headed towards an IPO again, now that the U.S. national security panel CFIUS has dropped its opposition.

Chinese gaming company Beijing Kunlun Tech purchased Grindr fully in 2018, but the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. found this problematic and forced Beijing Kunlun to sell the app by June 2020. According to a report from CNBC, a source familiar with the situation said the efforts to sell Grindr by the deadline were continuing, even as plans for the IPO were moving forward.