Muzz loses legal fight against Match Group
May 16, 2023
As you may know, we’ve been in a long court battle with Match Group - the multi billion-dollar conglomerate that owns Tinder - to keep the name we’ve been using since 2011.
It breaks my heart to say, but today we found out that we’ve lost our case.
Looking for your soulmate?
You won’t find your soulmate on this blog post but you might find them on Muzz - the world’s biggest Muslim dating and marriage app.
As a Muslim, I understand the difficulties in finding a life partner - something that’s central to our faith. It was even harder a decade ago when I first started Muzz from my bedroom. I knew there had to be a better, more modern way to find a partner and I was determined to build it myself.
Since then 6 million members have joined Muzz and we’ve have had over 200,000 successes. Our team has grown to 65 people around the world, and we’ve raised $9 million in funding.
Alhamdulillah, the best part of my day is reading the hundreds of emails from our new couples beginning their married life together.
We’re the biggest Muslim dating and marriage app in the world.
This hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Match Group tries to acquire Muzz
Match Group reached out to us in 2016, objecting to our trademark registration for Muzz. They proposed a settlement agreement if we promised not to sell the company to a competitor. We refused.
In 2017, they reached out again with an offer to acquire Muzz. It was flattering. Here was the biggest dating company in the world, interested in a little Muslim startup.
We talked multiple times over the year and they made four offers (maxing at $35M) which I believe didn’t value the business fairly.
It also became clear to me they wouldn’t be good partners for our mission to positively impact the 2 billion Muslims of the world.
Again, we refused.
Since our refusals, Match Group has resorted to the last tool of giant conglomerates with huge legal teams - litigation.
This isn’t new for them.
According to the New York Times, Match allegedly offered to acquire Bumble (their biggest competitor) for reportedly $450 million in 2017, which Bumble declined. The following year Match Group then sued Bumble, calling it a "Tinder-clone".
The English word ‘match’
Match Group took a leaf out of its well-used playbook and hit us with a similar lawsuit to the Bumble case, claiming trademark and patent infringements.
The patent in question was the ‘swiping’ mechanism (I know, who would think you can patent that?). We only used that mechanism for a very short time, so we made changes to our app and settled in the US on that front.
We just couldn’t afford to fight a legal battle there.
For us the trademark case, their objecting to us calling ourselves Muzz - a brand that has existed for over 11 years - was something we would never give up without a fight.I strongly believe that ‘match’ is a commonly used English word, especially in matchmaking services like ours.
It’s at the heart of all dating and marriage apps. During the two day trial last last year we showed an origination to the brand completely separate from Match Group and examples of uses of the word ‘match’ by all the major dating companies.
Importantly, Match Group was unable to show credible or significant examples of any confusion in the public between ‘Muzz’ and ‘Match’.
This was despite nearly 60 million customer queries being searched by both parties.
This month (April 2022), the judge ruled in Match Group’s favour, stating in his view the word ‘match’ is distinctive of match.com since 2011 (the year Muzz was born). It’s heartbreaking and frankly confusing.
The judge did mention that he didn’t believe we were intentionally using Match Group’s brand to our advantage, but this was little consolation.
It’s a disappointing result, but we’re most worried about the chilling effect this has in the tech industry.
What does it say when a multi-billion dollar company can use its weight to stifle competition in this manner?
During the last 6 months, I’ve been approached by well over 10 different startups who spoke in confidence of threats and legal pressure from Match Group over their brand or mechanics of their product.
One even had their app removed from the App Store following pressure from Match Group to Apple. Note that Match Group is one of the largest App Store revenue streams for Apple, netting the app platform $300 million last year.
For how much longer can The Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice or the Competition and Market Authority ignore such aggressive anti competitive behaviour?
Whilst we respect the judgement, we wholeheartedly disagree with this ruling and intend to appeal.
This fight isn’t over!
I want to thank our 6 million members, and the wider Muslim community of which we are a part of, for their support during this extremely stressful period for us as a company.
I have truly been touched by the love and solidarity I’ve received from the global Muslim community who recognise the very real contribution we’re making. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Your support has re-affirmed the need for Muslim-focused products which respectfully serve our global ummah (community).
We’ll keep listening and serving our community in a way that mainstream services won’t.
I am firmly of the belief that blessings are to be found in all setbacks we face on this journey together.
In my eyes there is no question we emerge from this stronger.
We’re more focused than ever on our mission of transforming how Muslims meet and marry.
We will not let Match Group kill us.
Founder and CEO