Dating app patent infringement – Netsoc v. Tinder

Dating app patent infringement – Netsoc v. Tinder

Patents are not easy to read. It can take a while, even for an experienced patent attorney, to determine exactly what a patent protects.  The section of the patent which actually defines the invention protected by the patent is called the claims section.  The claims section describes exactly what the patent protects.  If an element of the invention is described in the patent application, but that element is not included in the claims section then that element is not part of the patented invention.

If a patent owner feels that their patent is being infringed and wants to file a patent infringement lawsuit, the patent owner will have to itemize how each claim of the patent is being infringed.  If the defendant in a patent infringement lawsuit is not infringing on each element of a patent claim, then they are not liable for patent infringement.

There are two types of patent claims, independent claims and dependent claims.  An independent claim stands on its own. A dependent claim references an earlier claim, so the meaning and scope of the dependent claim does not stand on its own. The scope of a dependent claim is thus always narrower than the scope of an independent claim.

The independent claims together define the broadest scope of the patent. You can think of each independent claim as defining the boundary of a circle in a Venn diagram. The dependent claims can be thought of as smaller circles within the large circle.

A case which serves as a good template for a patent infringement lawsuit in the United States is NETSOC, LLC v. MATCH GROUP, INC.,  2:18-cv-00217 (E.D.TX 2018).  The defendant Match Group operates an app called Tinder.  Tinder is a popular dating application among young adults.  On May 22, 2018, U.S. Patent No. 9,978,107 entitled “Method and System for Establishing and Using a Social Network to Facilitate People in Life Issues” was duly and legally issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  NetSoc was assigned the patent by the inventor.   NetSoc sued Match claiming that Tinder infringes on the 107 patent on May 22, 2018, the day the patent was issued.

In its complaint NetSoc has itemized each of the claims of the 107 patent and how Tinder infringes on that claim.  The following is an except of how the complaint itemizes each claim and explains how Tinder infringes on that claim.

107 Patent Claim Present in Tinder
1. A method for establishing a social network, the method being implemented on a network computer system and comprising: Preamble, non-limiting. Plaintiff contends Tinder corresponds to a social network. Plaintiff further contends Tinder is implemented on a network computer system.
maintaining a list comprising a plurality of participants, wherein each participant in the plurality of participants corresponds to one or more individuals, Users of Tinder create a profile. The profile includes information such as username, address, age, sex, desired matches, and other information. Plaintiff contends profiles created by one or more individuals are maintained in one or more databases. The one or more databases correspond to a list of one or more individuals. The profile information comes from an individual’s Facebook account information and is linked to the individual’s Tinder account. According to the IAC 10-K for 2017, on page 17, Tinder also allows user access from mobile phones.
wherein the list also includes information associated with at least one of each participant or the one or more Individual users of Tinder create a profile. The profile includes information such as address, age, sex, desired matches, and others.

Once the plaintiff makes an allegation of infringement the defendant will be given the opportunity to demonstrate that they do not infringe on the claim, or that the claim is invalid.  It will be worth watching this case to see how Match Group responds.

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