Dispute between dating apps Tinder and Bumble about who owns 'the swipe'

Print this page 01-11-2018

NPR.org:  "In dueling lawsuits, Match, which owns Tinder, alleges that Bumble stole Tinder's intellectual property. Bumble says those claims are bogus, designed to drive down Bumble's worth and "poison Bumble in the investment market," according to Bumble's lawsuit.

The dispute between the two companies illustrates a recent shift in how the American legal system treats software patents. And, in general, it highlights the challenges of taking a patent system designed to protect inventors of machines ... and applying it to the Internet era.'


Bumble argues the patent protects the idea of "matchmaking on the Internet," and should be thrown out. Tinder, meanwhile, argues that marrying the swipe motion with a matchmaking system is a true invention, a concrete improvement to dating app interfaces.


Michael Risch, a professor at Villanova University's Charles Widger School of Law, has a few concerns. He agrees that many bad, overly broad patents have been thrown out under the Supreme Court decision called Alice. But good ones could be blocked too, he says.  This push-and-pull, between allowing competition and rewarding true innovation, is at the heart of patent law, says Burstein, the law professor.

"This is sort of the eternal question of patents," she says. "[The] tension we have between trying to get the rights not too broad, not too narrow, but ... just right."

And whether the courts swipe right for Tinder or Bumble, the challenge of finding the right balance will continue."


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