In what can be a cutthroat competitive landscape, small margins can have a big impact. It's small differences that can help to set one company ahead of another in the marketplace, and every business is striving to establish its own competitive edge. While most play within the rules (or at least keep their malfeasance from public view), we occasionally see the legal battling that happens when one business believes itself to be wronged by a competitor whom they accuse of stealing their work or ideas or knowledge to get ahead.
Such is the case between dating apps Bumble and Tinder, as the pair are involved in an increasingly complex and contentious legal back-and-forth involving alleged IP theft and bad faith negotiations. The entire drama began when Tinder's parent company Match Group filed a suit against Bumble, alleging that Bumble had stolen Tinder's swipe left/right feature; the allegation undoubtedly had some basis in the fact that Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd was a co-founder of Tinder.
In response to that suit, Bumble filed a countersuit against Match Group, claiming that the company had requested sensitive information as part of investment negotiations and then used that information as the basis for their lawsuit. Bumble is also alleging that Match Group is responsible for tortious interference as they claim that Match Group has worked to prevent other investors from becoming involved with Bumble by engaging in bad-faith negotiations and by making disparaging public statements about the company in order to further harm its investment prospects.
Unsurprisingly, each side has refuted the other's claims, with Match Group characterizing the suit as a distraction from the ongoing lawsuit over alleged stolen trade secrets and Bumble taking to the pages of no less than the New York Times to defend against what they claim are attempts to bully or intimidate them into conceding or selling the company. Wolfe Herd has also stated that any money the company is awarded in the lawsuit would be donated to causes that support women.
The layers of legal action and competing claims would seem to make the truth hard to discern, to the degree that the truth has anything to do with the law. The resultant legal wrangling from potential trade secret theft from a former co-founder as well as the disclosure of sensitive information during what is alleged to be negotiations begun in bad faith and under false pretenses should serve as a reminder to protect what private information exist in your company as jealously as possible, and to always be prepared for the departure of key figures from your business with a plan to prevent your IP from walking out the door as well.