A company called WildFireWeb is suing Tinder, Inc. in the Central District of California for allegedly infringing on its TINDER mark. For those who don’t know what Tinder, Inc.’s TINDER is, it’s a dating application that offers a rather limited profile, a few photos, and few filters, like proximity. If both matched parties indicate they are interested, they can start texting through Tinder’s text application. For those of you who don’t know about the other TINDER (which is probably most people, at least before the suit was filed), it’s a website content management system put out by WildFireWeb.
WildFireWeb owns the federal registration for TINDER in International Class 042 for “software for use in editing and creating web-site content; computer services . . . [and] application services . . . .” with a filing date of July 13, 2007 and first use in commerce on February 23, 2010.
Tinder, Inc., on the other hand, owns the federal registration for TINDER in International Class 009 for “a mobile application for internet-based dating and matchmaking . . .” with a first use date of August 2, 2012.
Though the registrations are both standard character mark registrations, both companies’ TINDER logos are actually quite similar:
I’ll let you guess which one is which.
In a move that shows what the this case is ultimately about, WildFireWeb has started an IndieGoGo campaign to raise funds for its suit against Tinder, Inc. Odds are, if you have to ask the public for money to bring a trademark infringement suit, you’re going with reverse confusion.
Reverse confusion occurs when a trademark becomes more closely associate with a junior user than the senior. This causes the senior user to lose the ability to control its own brand and sometimes leads the public to think either that the senior user is somehow associated with the junior user, or that the senior user is in fact trying to free ride on the junior user’s goodwill (your typical consumer confusion scenario).
For a company like WildFireWeb, you can see how it may not want to have its customers associating it with the other Tinder. WildFireWeb claims “private individuals, businesses, corporations, non-profits, schools and school districts” as its client base. Meanwhile, the Tinder dating application is known for less than committed relationships (just search “Tinder” on your favorite engine).
It seems that the ultimate issue will be whether there has been any consumer confusion. However, with Tinder, Inc. claiming 9 billion matches from its app, and WildFireWeb asking for some cash to get its day in court, this may be over before it ever really gets started. If you’re interested in seeing how it plays out, you can always contribute.