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Photo: Jaap Arriens / NurPhoto via Getty Images

Late last year there were reports that Match Group, the owner of popular dating app Tinder, had approached rival Bumble about a possible acquisition for more than $1 billion. Match Group CEO Mandy Ginsberg declined to comment specifically on Bumble during this morning's Q4 earnings call, but did make an intriguing disclosure:

“On the product front, Tinder has been on the cutting edge of innovation since its inception in 2012, inventing the swipe gesture, which has since become this cultural phenomenon of 'swipe right' and 'swipe left' and that is often imitated on mobile products. Tinder also invented the 'double blind opt-in' whereby two users need to 'like' each other before they can message. In fact, these features are so innovative that Tinder was granted a patent in the dating category by the US Patent & Trademark office which we think is valuable."

Axios has located the patent, which does indeed relate to the double opt-in, swipe left/right technology that is now central to mobile dating apps like Tinder, Bumble and others.

  • The patent application is dated October 21, 2013 — which is seven months before Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe Herd left Tinder to launch her rival company.
  • Herd is not among the "inventors" listed on the application. Neither is Justin Mateen, Herd's former Tinder boss who was later fired after Herd sued Mateen and Tinder for sexual harassment.
  • It is worth noting that Bumble has a major user interface difference from Tinder, which is that only women can initiate conversations. It is unclear (to me, at least) how this would impact any IP claim.
  • Ginsberg didn't say anything about what Match Group plans to do about enforcing the patent, if anything, but clearly this could become a factor in any future M&A discussions between the two companies. It also could possibly play a role in any other dating app acquisitions that Match Group might be considering.
  • A Match Group spokeswoman declined comment, while we've so far been unable to speak with Bumble.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
21 mins ago - Economy & Business

2021's expected earnings blowout begins

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon. Photo: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

First-quarter earnings so far have been very strong, outpacing even the rosy expectations from Wall Street and that's a trend that's expected to continue for all of 2021. S&P 500 companies are on pace for one of the best quarters of positive earnings surprises on record, according to FactSet.

Why it matters: The results show that not only has the earnings recession ended for U.S. companies, but firms are performing better than expected and the economy may be justifying all the hype.

22 mins ago - Science

NASA's Mars helicopter takes flight as first aircraft piloted on another planet

Ingenuity on the surface of Mars, filmed by NASA's Perseverance rover. Photo: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA successfully piloted the Ingenuity Mars helicopter for its first experimental flight on Monday, briefly hopping the aircraft as NASA's Perseverance rover collected data.

Why it matters: Ingenuity's short flight marks the first time a human-built aircraft has flown on a world other than Earth, opening the door to new means of exploring planets far from our own.

All U.S. adults now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

Healthcare workers getting COVID-19 vaccines on Dec. 16, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. Photo: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

All 50 U.S. states, plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, have made U.S. adults over the age of 16 eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, meeting President Biden's April 19 deadline.

Why it matters: The landmark speaks to the increased pace of the national vaccination campaign, but will increase pressure on the federal government, states and pharmaceutical companies to provide adequate vaccine supply and logistics.