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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

Updated 5 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Reports: Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to retire

Justice Stephen Breyer. Photo: MANDEL NGAN / AFP via Getty Images

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will retire, NBC news first reported and multiple outlets confirmed on Wednesday, giving President Biden his first — and maybe only — chance to put a stamp on the high court.

What’s next: Appointing a new Supreme Court justice will be one of the longest-lasting pieces of Biden’s legacy — and could give Democrats a jolt of energy ahead of next year's midterms.

30 mins ago - Science

Blizzard likely to hit New England this weekend as "bomb cyclone" forms

Computer model projection of the precipitation and wind field from the weekend storm in the Northeast. (Earth.nullschool.net)

A powerful blizzard is likely to strike parts of New England and the Mid-Atlantic beginning Friday and lasting into the weekend, with snow totals that are likely to be measured in feet.

The big picture: The joining of weather systems embedded in both the polar, or northern branch, of the jet stream and the southern branch is projected to create a bomb cyclone. Such storms undergo a process known as bombogenesis, with their minimum central air pressure readings plunging at least 24 millibars in 24 hours.

Schools desperate for substitute teachers

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

School districts and officials nationwide are begging parents to step in, loosening requirements for substitute teachers and, in one case, asking the National Guard for help as last-ditch efforts to stay open amid the latest COVID-19 surge.

Why it matters: Substitute teachers have emerged as a vital part of schools' reopening efforts, but they are in short supply after years of being overlooked and undervalued.