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‘We Swipe Left on Bullies:’ Bumble Escalates Tinder Rivalry With Biting Response to Patent Lawsuit

March 20, 2018, 12:48 PM UTC

Bumble on Tuesday published a sharply-written letter to Match Group in response to the patent infringement lawsuit the Tinder parent company filed last week.

In a dating-app-metaphor laden public note, Bumble accused Match Group of resorting to the lawsuit because their attempts to purchase and imitate Bumble had failed. The letter called the lawsuit a “baseless” attempt at intimidation, and vowed that it wouldn’t work. Bumble emphasized its commitment to female empowerment and implied that there was enough space in the market for both apps. A snippet:

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.

The letter did not address the central allegation in the lawsuit—that Bumble improperly used Tinder’s intellectual property.

Bumble is similar to Tinder, except women have to make the first move on the app. The approach is intended to reverse gender norms and help create an environment with less harassment than other forums. Tinder recently announced it would launch a similar feature in its next update, but women will have to opt in.

Match Group’s complaint claims that Bumble copied Tinder’s “card-swipe-based, mutual opt-in premise” and that third parties said Bumble was “virtually identical” to Tinder upon its release. Because the founders of Bumble are ex-Tinder executives, Match, which owns Tinder, claims they improperly used Tinder’s intellectual property.

Whitney Wolfe, the founder and CEO of Bumble, was a co-founder of Tinder. In 2014, she sued the company and its then-parent company IAC for sexual harassment. The lawsuit ended in a settlement that was reportedly just over $1 million.