Yesterday we reported that Match, the parent company of Tinder, was suing Bumble for patent infringement and misuse of intellectual property.
Specifically, Match alleged that Bumble “copied Tinder’s world-changing, card-swipe-based, mutual opt-in premise” for which a patent was filed in 2013 (before Bumble was founded) but just granted a few months ago.
Today Bumble has responded to Match’s lawsuit with a letter published on their own blog and other news outlets. The full letter is linked here and we’ll also include it in full at the bottom of this post.
Interestingly, Bumble’s letter focuses less on the actual litigation and instead attempts to fill in readers about the context in which Match has decided to sue over this patent claim.
Specifically, the letter notes that this lawsuit comes after Match has made repeated attempts to buy Bumble as well as launch a copy cat “lady’s first” feature. While Bumble or Match have never publicly acknowledged negotiations between the two companies, sources close to the situation have confirmed in the past to TechCrunch that there were multiple back and forth offers from Match which fell short of Bumble’s desired valuation.
With sources close to the two companies telling TechCrunch that this is the first time Match has ever mentioned possible patent infringements by Bumble, it’s very possible that Match feels that discussions have stalled and this is their way of either forcing the deal forward or making Bumble an unattractive target for other bidders that may be scared off by this potential legal liability.
The letter shows that Bumble essentially agrees with this analysis, as they openly call out the lawsuit as an intimidation tactic by saying “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.”
While anything is possible (especially in the world of M&A), the letter also strongly suggests that as of now any chance of a deal between the two companies are seriously off the table, as Bumble says “we’ll never be yours, no matter the price tag”.
When asked if any company besides Match has made a competing offer, Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe Herd told TechCrunch that “Bumble is very excited about other potential opportunities that are still very much in discussion, and none of the recent news has affected these conversations.”
In regards to the lawsuit itself, Bumble does say (in a footnote) that they “vigorously dispute this lawsuit’s baseless claims and look forward to telling their story in court”.
It’s going to be interesting to see what happens next. If Bumble has truly swiped left on Match for good, than the dating conglomerate may feel like they have nothing to lose by pursuing their lawsuit against Bumble for as long as possible. Or, maybe it is all one big negotiating technique and they’ll end up dropping it before coming back to Bumble with a larger offer.
Either way, we’ll keep you updated as soon as we find out more. Here’s the full letter from Bumble to Match:
Dear Match Group,
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.
We — a woman-founded, women-led company — aren’t scared of aggressive corporate culture. That’s what we call bullying, and we swipe left on bullies. Ask the thousands of users we’ve blocked from our platform for bad behavior.
In fact, that behavior? It only fuels us. It motivates us to push our mission further — to work harder each day to build a platform, community, and brand that promotes kindness, respect, and equality. That’s the thing about us. We’re more than a feature where women make the first move. Empowerment is in our DNA. You can’t copy that.
So when you announced recently, in another attempt to intimidate us, that you were going to try to replicate our core, women-first offering and plug it in to Tinder, we applauded you for the attempt to make that subsidiary safer.
We strive every day to protect our nearly 30 million users, and to engineer a more accountable environment. Instead of swinging back and forth between trying to buy us, copy us, and sue us, why don’t you spend that time taking care of bad behavior on your platforms?
We remain focused on improving our users’ experience, and taking our mission worldwide, until every woman knows she has the power to make the first move, to go after what she wants, and to say “no” without fear.
We as a company will always swipe right for empowered moves, and left on attempts to disempower us. We encourage every user to do the same. As one of our mottos goes, “bee kind or leave.”
We wish you the best, but consider yourselves blocked.