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Bumble Is Suing Tinder Parent for Stealing Trade Secrets Under the Guise of Acquisition Talks

March 29, 2018, 10:18 AM UTC

The battle of the dating apps is heating up, and it’s not pretty.

After Tinder parent Match Group filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Bumble in early March, the female-forward dating app is hitting back.

Bumble filed its own lawsuit on Wednesday, according to TechCrunch. The legal action is not direct a response to Match Group’s initial lawsuit. (Bumble has already issued a response in the form of a letter, which was also published as a full-page ad in The New York Times). Rather, the Wednesday suit, which acknowledges that Bumble and the Tinder parent were in acquisition talks, broadly accuses Match Group of interfering with Bumble’s business operations.

Whitney Wolfe, founder and CEO of Bumble, at the 2017 Fortune Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif.

Among Bumble’s allegations:

  1. When Match Group discovered that several companies were interested in investing in or acquiring Bumble, it filed the March lawsuit to make the company less attractive;
  2. Match Group requested “confidential and trade secret information” as part of the acquisition talks, but then used the information for its own gains; and
  3. The March lawsuit and subsequent dissemination of misleading information about Bumble’s purported infringements of Match Group’s intellectual property disparaged Bumble, potentially affecting its other investment and acquisition opportunities.

In a statement to Fortune, Match Group called the lawsuit “a petulant and meritless response to our patent, trademark and trade secret claims.”

“Last week, Bumble claimed our complaint was baseless and won’t affect them, and this week they claim it is ‘chilling’ the sale of their company,” the statement says. “They also shockingly claim that our patents issued by the United States Patent & Trademark Office are ‘bogus.’ We obviously think their lawsuit has no substance and look forward to proving that in court.”

The back-and-forth between the two companies is especially notable given their long history. Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd co-founded Tinder and later sued the company for harassment and discrimination.

In its Wednesday lawsuit, Bumble is requesting $400 million in damages, as well as an injunction preventing Match and its affiliates from using any of the confidential information they received over the course of the acquisition negotiations.

This story has been updated to include Match Group’s comment on allegations.