The U.S. dating giant Match Group has won a court battle with the Muslim dating and marriage app Muzmatch after accusing it of copying its product and services.
The UK intellectual property and enterprise court ruled that Muzmatch had infringed the trademark of Match Group and this means it could now lose the right to use its name.
The deputy High Court judge Nicholas Caddick QC said that this “would have led some consumers to assume that the goods and services offered by Muzmatch were somehow connected with or derived from Match.”
A Match Group spokesperson said: “We are pleased that the court recognised what we have known to be true: that Muzmatch has unfairly benefited from Match Group’s reputation and investment in its brand and was riding Match Group’s coattails for undeserved gain in this highly competitive market. We have, and will always protect the work, creativity and innovations of our employees, and are grateful that the court recognised this and ruled accordingly.”
Muzmatch’s chief executive, Shahzad Younas, said he would appeal against the judgment but vowed to continue the platform, even if it meant rebranding.
In a Facebook statement he said: “It breaks my heart to say, but today we found out that we’ve lost our case… For us the trademark case, their objecting to us calling ourselves Muzmatch – 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 ‘muzmatch’ 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 muzmatch was born). It’s heartbreaking and frankly confusing…
“What does it say when a multi-billion dollar company can use its weight to stifle competition in this manner? During the last six 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… 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.”