Muzmatch loses brand battle with dating giant Match

Muslim marriage startup Muzmatch lost the rights to use its name after a trademark dispute with dating giant Match Group, owner of Match.com, Hinge and Tinder.

Match sued the company in January, claiming it had distinctive trademark recognition over the term “match.” Britain’s Intellectual Property Court ruled on Wednesday that Muzmatch took an “unfair advantage” over the word’s association with Match, which could lead consumers to believe the two companies were related.

London-based app Muzmatch said it had no alternative name and planned to appeal the decision, arguing that the word “match” is a descriptive English term for matchmaking.

“I’m drained and exhausted,” said Shahzad Younas, founder of Muzmatch, adding that the company would “keep fighting as long as we have the financial capability.”

Match has spent the past decade recruiting smaller rivals to build a portfolio of more than a dozen dating platforms and become the biggest player in the competitive matchmaking industry. She has regularly faced clashes with competitors, including rival Bumble, as she seeks to defend her dominant position.

Prior to the lawsuit, Match, whose shares have nearly halved since an October spike, was in talks to acquire Muzmatch for $35 million — an offer Younas said he rejected in 2019. Match said having been approached by Younas for acquisition talks.

In Wednesday’s decision, Judge Nicholas Caddick noted that when Muzmatch was created in 2011, Match “had a very good reputation. . . including among members of the Muslim community”. He added: “Match had invested very large sums in order to build this reputation and. . . confidence in its platform and reduce any stigma that may attach to the use of online dating services.

By linking to Match, “Muzmatch was actually taking that reputation and investment and doing it without paying for it,” Caddick wrote.

As part of the case, the two companies reviewed more than 50 million records of the company’s interactions with users between the Muzmatch brand and Match. Three cases were cited by Match as evidence of confusion between the two groups.

The decision comes after a lengthy legal battle between the companies, which lasted more than a year and cost Muzmatch more than $1 million in costs, largely from its $7 million Series A led by the US hedge fund Luxor Capital and Silicon Valley accelerator Y Combinator.

Match also sued Muzmatch last year for allegedly copying Tinder’s swipe feature, which was set without acknowledgment and Muzmatch removed the gesture.

Muzmatch has 6m users, but its reporting to Companies House does not include annual revenue, suggesting its turnover does not exceed the £10.2m threshold at which companies must report income. more detailed financial statements.

A spokesperson for Match said: “We are delighted that the court has accepted what we know to be true: that Muzmatch unfairly took advantage of Match Group’s reputation and investment in its brand and that it followed Match Group’s footsteps for undeserved gain in this highly competitive market. ”

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