NEW YORK TIMES - A London court ruled that Muzmatch infringed on Match trademarks, on Wednesday. Match Group ($3b revenue, 16m paying users) sued Muzmatch for infringing on its trademarked logo, using "match" in its name, and "unfairly benefiting" from the company’s reputation and investment in its brand. The ruling, from London's Intellectual Property Enterprise Court, could mean Muzmatch (6m users, $9m financing) must change its name and pay damages. Founder/CEO, Shahzad Younas, said Muzmatch would appeal. Match objected to the trademark registration for "Muzmatch" in Europe and the United States in 2016. Match also objected to the use of a heart and the font in Muzmatch's logo at the time, which were eventually removed. Match made approaches to buy the company, eventually offering up to $35m in 2019. Mr. Younas turned the offer down. Later that year, Match acquired Harmonica, a Muslim dating start-up in Egypt. "This is just their tactic," he said. "They'll court you, they'll get your data, they'll try and buy you, and when that doesn't work, they'll either go after a competitor or they'll just kill you," Mr. Younas said. "A million dollars for them in legal fees is small change. For us, it's everything."
Mark Brooks: I sympathize with Shahzad and Muzmatch. However, Match has to defend its name and trademark, along with its IP. It's simply not an option for them to not. Therefore, if you have a niche+match or match+niche type name, and anything in the way of scale and an official trademark application, then Match may well come simultaneously knocking, with guns cocked. This of course impairs your M&A valuation. Best to steer well clear of Match in your name in the context of Internet dating. The precedent is set. Match will sound and then fire its cannons at you if you encroach on their apparent domain. This may be unfair, but at least it is predictable.