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The company behind Tinder slapped dating app Bumble with a lawsuit on Friday that accuses it of infringing on a pair of patents. Match Group, which owns OkCupid, PlentyOfFish, and Match, claims its rival stole the famous swipe-to-match gesture along with several design cues, or what it calls the “ornamental aspect” of its app.
The lawsuit is being interpreted as an unorthodox method for Match to acquire Bumble, which it’s still interested in doing after putting up an unsuccessful $450 million bid last summer, Recode reports. Bumble may feel pressured by the lawsuit and be compelled to join forces to make it go away.
Tinder and Bumble have a long, bitter history. Bumble, a dating app that gives power to women, was created by Tinder co-founder Whitney Wolfe after she filed a sexual discrimination lawsuit against Tinder. Wolfe said fellow Tinder co-founders Sean Rad and Justin Mateen stripped her of her co-founder title, with executives allegedly calling Wolfe a “whore” and saying “having a young female co-founder makes the company seem like a joke” and “devalues” it. The suit was settled for $1 million, according to Forbes.
Tinder points out in the filing that the case is not about “any Bumble personnel’s personal history with anyone previously at Tinder” or “feminism or a business marketed based on feminist themes.” It insists the suit was filed because Bumble allegedly “copied Tinder’s world-changing, card-swipe-based, mutual opt-in premise.”
“Bumble sought to mimic Tinder’s functionality, trade off of Tinder’s name, brand, and general look and feel, meet user expectations that Tinder itself and its brand created, and build a business entirely on a Tinder-clone, distinguished only by Bumble’s women-talk-first marketing strategy,” the lawsuit reads.
Match is seeking a permanent injunction and damages, including compensatory damages, unjust enrichment or restitution damages, reasonable royalties, and exemplary damages.
In a statement to Recode, Match said it “invested significant resources and creative expertise in the development of our industry-leading suite of products” and that it’s “prepared when necessary to enforce our patents and other intellectual property rights against any operator in the dating space who infringes upon those rights.”
We have reached out to Bumble and will update this article if we hear back.
Update 10:03am CT, March 20: Bumble responded to news of the lawsuit with a company blog post on Tuesday morning. The post skirts around the legal issue, and pushes back on the company as a whole, calling it a “bully” and writing “We’ll never be yours. No matter the price tag, we’ll never compromise our values.” It also calls the lawsuit a scare tactic and “baseless.”
Phillip Tracy is a former technology staff writer at the Daily Dot. He's an expert on smartphones, social media trends, and gadgets. He previously reported on IoT and telecom for RCR Wireless News and contributed to NewBay Media magazine. He now writes for Laptop magazine.