Tinder owner Match Group on Friday filed a lawsuit against Bumble, accusing its competitor of infringing on its patented technologies and stealing its trade secrets. The lawsuit filed with a competent court in Texas alleges Bumble copied Tinder's swipe-based mechanism for quickly going through potential matches and is generally largely identical to its rival which is still widely believed to be the world's most popular online dating service. Launched in 2014 by former Tinder employees, Bumble is advertised as a female-oriented dating platform that only allows women to make the first move, i.e. initiative contact with a potential match. Match Group's lawsuit explicitly points out the working history of co-founder Whitney Wolfe Herd who left Tinder in 2014 after settling with the company for approximately $1 million over a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit.
After partnering with dating-oriented social network Badoo, Ms. Wolfe Herd recruited ex-Tinder employees Sarah Mick and Chris Gulczynski who ended up designing the mobile app that launched as Bumble in December of 2014. Match Group alleges the defendants copied Tinder's design, including a number of features that they learned about and helped develop while still working at the previous startup. The plaintiff is now looking to introduce a similar feature aimed at enabling women to make the first move, i.e. allowing them to opt out of receiving unsolicited messages through its own service, and claims to have been working on that functionality for a while now. Match Group says the development is the first occasion on which it's suing over the infringement of its patents protecting the swipe-based, double-opt-in design that's the most recognizable characteristic of Tinder.
Besides Tinder, the company also owns dating services Match.com, OkCupid, and Plenty of Fish, with Badoo being one of its most notable competitors, both due to its own service and the fact that its co-founder and CEO Andrey Andreev owns a majority stake in Bumble. The company alleges both the "Undo" button and the photo messaging capabilities of Bumble have been originally envisioned by Mick and Gulczynski while the two designers were working at Tinder. Match Group attempted to acquire Bumble for $450 million last summer but was rejected, whereas both Gulczynski and Mick left the startup in the meantime, according to their LinkedIn profiles.