03.20.18

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Tinder/Match Group Uses Software Patents to Sue a Rival, Obviously Choosing to Sue in Texas

Posted in Courtroom, Patents at 5:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Map of Texas

Summary: Software patents are being used for leverage, but only those which were likely granted before Alice and only in courts at districts somewhere around Texas

THE remnant of software patents granted by the USPTO is a massive liability. A lot of lawsuits rely on such patents, which are likely toothless and thus worthless after Alice.

A few days ago it turned out that Tinder had become a patent bully. It’s suing over alleged infringement of software patents (which are likely bunk and void). Maybe it was hoping that the rival will just settle/fold/sell, or even remove features (modifying the platform); eventually came a lawsuit in an expectedly biased court:

Match Group, the online dating company that owns services like Tinder and Match.com, wants to buy Bumble, another popular dating app that lets women make the first move.

But Match may be trying to push the deal along in an unconventional way: A new patent infringement lawsuit filed late Friday in U.S. District court in Waco, Texas.

Match Group is suing Bumble, which was founded by one of Tinder’s co-founders, for infringing on two of its patents, including a design patent for Tinder’s now-famous swipe-to-connect feature, according to the suit.

Assuming that the lawsuit cannot be relocated (venue change), there’s a chance they might get away with it.

“Examiners ought to stop allowing monopolies on algorithms and applicants oughtn’t bother patenting software (because courts don’t really care for these).”In the meantime, Judge Gilstrap is said to have supported a defendant in a patent case in the Eastern District of Texas (EDTX). That’s rare! So rare in fact that Docket Navigator gave it a special mention yesterday. The case is Adjustacam LLC v Amazon.com, Inc., et al and the summary is as follows: “The court awarded defendant its attorney fees under 35 U.S.C. § 285 and rejected plaintiff’s argument that defendant was not entitled to attorney fees prior to claim construction.”

That does not mean that the defendant is safe though; the best way to assure one’s safety is to exit EDTX or appeal to the CAFC (which is even more expensive).

A lot of these issues boil down to the granting of software patents, which patent trolls love and judges like Gilstrap uphold in spite of Alice. Yesterday we saw this new outline of recent patents in New Hampshire. Some of them sound like classic algorithms, e.g. “data gathering devices on behalf of a calling secure software application.”

Examiners ought to stop allowing monopolies on algorithms and applicants oughtn’t bother patenting software (because courts don’t really care for these). Such patents are only useful when you can bully small companies outside courts. As long as examiners continue to grant these…

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