If you’ve ever heard the term “patent infringement”, your eyes probably glazed over and you might have fallen asleep. The only people who find that kind of thing interesting is stuffy lawyers – until now. Tinder’s parent company, Match Group, has launched a patent infringement suit against Bumble. The suit alleges that Bumble has stolen a number of design ideas of Tinders since it came to live in 2014. While maybe that isn’t interesting, Bumble’s response definitely is.
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. We swipe left on your attempted scare tactics, and on these endless games. We swipe left on your assumption that a baseless lawsuit would intimidate us. Given your enduring interest in our company, we expected you to know us a bit better by now.
The infringement suit sounds a bit like sour grapes to me. For those of you who don’t remember, Whitney Wolfe Herd, the founder of Bumble, had formerly co-founded Tinder. But she ended up leaving the company (as well as filing a lawsuit) after she was sexually harassed in 2014. Herd’s filed a lawsuit, in which she claimed that she was stripped of her co-founder title because Justin Mateen (then CMO) told her that “having a young female co-founder makes the company seem like a joke”. Ultimately, she settled the lawsuit for about $1 million.
But it’s a bit juicier than that. Justin Mateen was actually in a relationship with Herd during her time at Tinder. After she left, Mateen called her some pretty inappropriate things, like “whore” and “gold digger”. He also bombarded her with threatening text messages, which were included as part of that lawsuit. Hence why I think that this is sour grapes. Or better yet – a scorned ex-lover. I mean, we’ve all been in situations where we didn’t like the way that things ended. But I can’t say that we’ve all been in situations where we’ve texted our former partners and bombarded them with inappropriate messages. Or is that just me?
Does Tinder, or Match Group have a leg to stand on? In the suit, Match Group alleges that Chris Gulczynski and Sarah Mick had confidential knowledge of certain Tinder features and therefore implemented them in Bumble. Gulczynski and Mick are two former Tinder employees, who created Bumble alongside Herd. The suit further alleges Bumble’s backtrack feature, which lets users undo an accidental left swipe, was originally a Tinder idea. As was its picture messaging system, which blurs photos until the receiver taps them, easing concerns of looking at intimate photos in public, Match claims in its suit. Match also alleges that everything from the card-like UI to the language of swiping is meant to look like Tinder.
I am not a patent expert or lawyer, so what I’m about to say isn’t in defense of one side or the other. But isn’t this what these platforms do now? They “borrow” features from other platforms in order to make theirs better? Think about Snapchat and Instagram. I mean they’re practically the same these days. So how is this different? Did Bumble really have information about the platform itself? Or is this, like I said, just a case of sour grapes? Match Group did try to purchase Bumble this year, but obviously, that was turned down. Which makes you wonder why? Because Bumble is competition for Match and they are angry about it. Stay tuned for more on this one, as it develops.