Muzmatch, a dating and marriage app based in the UK, has lost a court battle to US dating titans Match Group, the company behind Tinder – the most downloaded dating app in the world.
The outcome of the legal proceedings could spell trouble for Muzmatch as they stand to lose the rights to use their name for their services.
The UK’s Intellectual Property Court ruled that Muzmatch gained an ‘unfair advantage’ in its name due to bearing similarities to a trademark owned by Match Group. High Court judge Nicholas Caddick concluded that these similarities ‘would have led some consumers to assume that the goods and services offered by Muzmatch were somehow connected with or derived from Match,’ possibly leading to consumer confusion between the two.
Match Group sued Muzmatch last year, citing the company’s use of the word ‘match’ as riding on the coattails of their success, despite Muzmatch having established a seven year presence on the dating app scene since 2015. Evidence to corroborate their claim includes the company’s application of words ‘match’ and ‘Tinder’ in the metadata of Muzmatch.com to drive traffic to the site.
Pioneered by ex-investment banker Shazad Younas, Muzmatch was created for and by the Muslim community to help singles find their partner for life without compromising religious values, hence ‘Muz’ for Muslim and ‘Match’ for matchmaking. Younas responded to the accusations by stating the company had no intention of benefiting off the reputation of Match Group, further pointing out that it should not be possible to monopolize the word ‘match’ in a highly-competitive market.
Younas has since expressed his disappointment with the judge’s decision over a series of tweets defending the rights of startups to go their own way without unfair competition impeding their efforts: ‘What does it say when a multi-billion dollar company can use its weight to stifle competition in this manner?’
Match Group has a long history of attempting to acquire its competitors, including direct rival Bumble, a dating app focused on women making the first move. When Match Group failed to do so, they took Bumble Inc to court with claims of being too similar to Tinder. The attempt to acquire Muzmatch occured in 2017 where four offers were made and all were rejected. Match Group has since bought the company’s direct rival Harmonica renamed Hawaya, an Egyptian Muslim dating app.
Start-ups and new businesses take heed. Perform name searches and clearance checks prior to establishing your exciting new brand. Seek professional advice in the early process of naming your brand to avoid getting stuck in with legal disputes down the line.