The Tinder dating app’s “swipe right” interface has survived an early attack on its patents by rival Bumble Trading Inc.
Judge Alan Albright of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas turned away Bumble’s claim that two patents owned by Tinder parent Match Group LLC are ineligible for patenting under Section 101 of the Patent Act. Bumble, a dating app for women co-founded by former Tinder employees, had argued the patents are directed to the abstract concepts of matchmaking and picking cards out of a stack.
Match’s patents cover a user interface that presents dating profiles as a stack of cards, with the user’s “swipe right” gesture indicating a positive preference and swipe left indicating rejection. Match claims the Tinder application revolutionized the world of online dating. It sued Bumble, which is designed for women who want to make the first move, for allegedly infringing its technology.
“The court finds that these claims improve existing interface technology sufficiently to survive a motion to dismiss under Section 101,” Albright wrote in a Dec. 17 order. He noted that the Federal Circuit has issued three opinions this year upholding the patent eligibility of improvements in user interfaces.
The “swipe right” improvement “has been a commercial success because it has increased ‘the speed of a user’s navigation through [potential matches],’ which is apparently important to a substantial number of people who are interested in meeting other people via the internet,” Albright wrote, quoting language from the Federal Circuit’s January decision in Core Wireless Licensing v. LG Electronics.
The Federal Circuit’s precedents, combined with the presumption that issued patents are valid, doomed Bumble’s motion to dismiss the challenged patent claims at the pleading stage. “It is entirely possible that, after discovery and further development of the record, Bumble will be successful in demonstrating that the asserted claims are invalid,” Albright added.
He also turned away Bumble’s motion to dismiss Match’s trade secret claims, saying it was too early in the case to rule on them.
Match is represented by a Caldwell, Cassady & Curry team led by partner Bradley Caldwell and associates John Summers and Warren McCarty. John Palmer of Naman, Howell, Smith & Lee was also on the motion.
Bumble is represented by Cooley and The Dacus Firm.