Today, Bumble and Tinder are two of the biggest names in dating apps, but it wasn’t too long ago when the two companies were at war, at least legally. It all has to do with the very beginning of the companies and comes down to the question of who owns an idea.
When Sean Rad got the idea for Tinder while working at the start-up incubator, Hatch Labs, swiping was an integral component of how the app functioned. That is why when an early employee, Whitney Wolfe Herd, left Tinder to start her own company, later named Bumble, the group that owned Tinder decided to cry foul.
By this point in time, Sean Rad had been ousted as CEO of Tinder, so he wasn’t complaining about intellectual property theft. Rather, it was Match Group, owner of such well known dating sites as Match.com and OkCupid that was bringing the lawsuits, accusing Bumble of stealing its intellectual property. Bumble, in turn, countersued, basically accusing the Match Group of using its large size to dominate the market and driving down Bumble’s own worth.
Of course, you have to go a bit further back for the full story as Whitney Wolfe Herd had actually already sued Tinder. This was in a messy situation where she and a founder of the company dated and then broke up. Wolfe Herd left the company and sued for sexual harassment, before going on to start Bumble.
The question of whether Bumble really did steal intellectual property from Tinder comes down to some key questions about software patents, which intellectual property law is going to have to come to some clearer answers about in the future.
Up until recently, U.S. patent law made it possible to get a patent for an abstract idea, so long as it was tied to existing technology. Making it much easier to patent ideas that were quite abstract when it came to the internet.
But in 2014, a court case made these broad kinds of patents more difficult. In the end, this protects against threats to commerce like patent trolls who will patent broad swaths of ideas only to sue budding companies and startups who implement the same ideas. There is some controversy around this crackdown of patenting, and it will be interesting to see how trends in patenting software shape future companies and the legal battles they fight.
One major trend that has become popular recently is the concept of “slow dating.” While not for everyone, this sees many choosing to take more time to get to know their potential matches before actually meeting in person. Part safety precaution and part an attempt to meet on a deeper level.
Speaking of a deeper level, another popular dating trend is looking for love in the stars. Some people are taking their astrological compatibility very seriously. Perhaps it only makes sense to look to the stars to guide you when it’s hard to meet in person.