If you are single in this day and age, you have likely heard of TINDER®. For those who have not, TINDER® is a social media platform for online dating/meeting new people where users can view other user’s profiles and photos. A user then swipes right to make a “match” or left to decline based on the profile/photos. The platform then allows users to communicate if both people swipe right to make a match with each other. Many other dating apps have become popular recently but TINDER® launched in 2012 as an easier way to meet people.

Match Group, LLC (“Match”) owns trademarks for the TINDER® brand related to various computer software applications including social media.

RLP Ventures, LLC (“RLP”) filed for the mark POLITICAL TINDER for various advertising, marketing, entertainment and educational services, including those on social media. RLP disclaimed the term “political” in its mark. Match filed an opposition proceeding with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to oppose registration of the mark citing a likelihood of confusion.

Similarity of TINDER® and POLITICAL TINDER

With regard to the similarity of the marks, the TTAB found both marks comprised primarily of the arbitrary term “Tinder”. The disclaimer of the term “political” in RLP’s mark effectively made the term “Tinder” the dominant part of their mark. Accordingly, the term “Tinder” is identical in sound, appearance, meaning and connotation between the two marks. This weighs in favor of a likelihood of confusion.

Similarity of goods and services

With regard to the similarity between goods and services, RLP argued that Match’s mark relates to dating products which is substantially different from the political services they offer. However, the TTAB noted one of the recitations in the TINDER® trademark registrations is “downloadable software in the nature of a mobile application in the field of social media, namely, for sending status updates to subscribers of web feeds, uploading and downloading electronic files to share with others.” They found this similar to RLP’s recitation of “providing information about political elections” and “providing information and news in the field of current events relating to politics.”

Match also offered evidence that politicians have used its goods and services to discuss and promote political candidates. CNN Business also publicized the TINDER® app regarding a “Swipe the Vote” feature. In light of the evidence presented as well as a comparison of the recitations of the marks, the TTAB found the goods and services confusingly similar.

Strength of TINDER®

In examining the strength of the TINDER® mark, the TTAB found the term “tinder” is an arbitrary term as it pertains to the goods and services of Match. Accordingly, it is a conceptually strong mark.

With regard to commercial strength, Match provided evidence of third party media coverage from 2013 and 2014; global revenue of over $600 million from 2013-2017; downloads of the app over 70 million times in the U.S.; and evidence of 26 million “matches” per day which resulted in over 20 billion “matches”. In spite of this evidence, the TTAB found TINDER® is not a famous mark. They cited that some of the media coverage was not recent; some figures recited do not specify if use is only in the U.S. and the figures cited are from unspecified sources. The TTAB did state that the mark is afforded a broad scope of protection than is normally afforded a distinctive mark with less recognition. However, it does not receive the broadest protection afforded famous marks. In light of all of the foregoing factors, the TTAB found a likelihood of confusion. between the marks.

Takeaways

As shown in the case, reaching famous status for a trademark is very difficult. I think if Match offered more recent data and substantiated their figures, the TTAB may have deemed TINDER® famous. Even without being a famous mark, Match easily established a likelihood of confusion between the marks.

FAQs

Is TINDER a famous trademark?

No, Tinder is not considered a famous mark.

Michele Lawson

Michele Lawson is a U.S. Registered Patent Attorney.