Tinder’s patented “swipe-right” for a date

Dating apps Tinder and Bumble recently made headlines on multiple IP and business news outlets as their 2-year long patent dispute allegedly came to an end with a mutually pleasing resolution. The decision made between the two rival companies has not yet been disclosed (at the time of writing).

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Tinder was founded in September 2012. Among the founding group was Whitney Wolfe Herd, who left Tinder in 2014 to start Bumble. A match on both apps requires opt-in from both parties, which is done by either swiping-right to opt-in to allow a chat with the other party or opt-out by swiping-left. The key difference between the two apps is that Bumble only allows women to initiate an online chat with anyone they match with. This is could be due to the ratio of men using dating apps being higher than women on average. Sites catering to men have come out in recent years, such as gay dating sites, or london escort sites for hookups. Not only this but there are more dating sites coming out all the time for all kinds of different people and their dating goals. For example, cultures, sexualities, and religion. In fact, there is even a Dating site for Muslims who are usually quite particular and serious about their love life, however, this site helps a seeker find the perfect marriage partner for their religious beliefs! It is very diverse and accomodating of people of all backgrounds these days, which is an excellent development in society. However, the ratio of men to women on unisex websites continues to be imbalanced and is said to have a negative impact on a woman’s dating site experience. Bumble hopes to improve the dating experience for women by letting them make the first move.

What is the patent dispute about?

Tinder Inc. filed for a patent entitled “Matching process system and method” in 2008 to protect their algorithm for matching people for dates. They received a grant for their US patent application in 2013.

The parent company of Tinder Inc, Match Group, decided to sue Bumble in 2019 for patent infringement and misuse of intellectual property, stating that Bumble “copied Tinder’s world-changing, card-swipe-based, mutual opt-in premise.”

The granted publications within family 43432781 that have been used to support legal action against competitor Bumble are US10203854BB and US9733811BB. Using PatBase’s Legal Information Browser, it is easy to see the legal status events for a patent family. Each event is colour coded, and descriptions provide more information about what is happening:

Within this tool, you can also see any available litigation information.

Tinder Inc’s patenting activity:

With just a few clicks, PatBase users can generate a report of an assignee’s activity using Assignee Snapshot. Tinder appears to have been particularly active in applying for patents in 2016.

Part of the legal dispute between Tinder and Bumble is calling to question the patentability of Tinder’s intellectual property. According to statements made by Bumble representatives, they do not believe that the abstract idea presented by Tinder surrounding their matching methodology meets the requirements of a patent.

It will be interesting to see what comes of this patent dispute. As more digitisation occurs around the world this case provides a good example of the complexity of patents.

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