Dating apps have become quite popular over recent years. The ability to meet someone with just a swipe or touch of button has completely changed the dating game. Okcupid, Tinder, Bumble and Coffee meets Bagel are just some of the few that come to mind. But apps, just like many other things, may be subject to lawsuits every now and then. Okcupid in particular has been involved in a patent infringement lawsuit.
The Parties and the Patent at Issue
The plaintiff bringing the lawsuit is Ghaly Devices LLC (Ghaly Devices), which is a Texas Company that owns U.S. patent no. 6,685,479 (‘479 patent) and titled “Personal Hand Held Device.” The defendant Humor Rainbow, INC (Humor Rainbow) is a New York Corporation that owns the OkCupid app. Ghaly alleges that Humor Rainbow incorporated patented aspects of the ‘479 patent into the OKCupid app and committed patent infringement.
To read the entire complaint, click here.
The ‘479 patent
The ‘479 patent, as set forth by the Ghaly Devices complaint, is stated to provide an interface that can facilitate a user’s choice to indicate what kind of personality traits they would prefer in another while being able to determine the actual personality traits of that other person by their personal profile. Ghaly Devices was also specific in stating that the interface technology was not an abstract idea by referencing other cases and patents.
Patent Infringement Generally
Generally, there needs to be a valid patent before a patent infringement lawsuit can be initiated. A party may infringe on a patent when they make, use, sell, offer for sale, or import into the United States a device covered by the patent.
Patent infringement as set forth by the Ghaly Device Complaint
Ghaly Devices alleged that Humor Rainbow infringed at least one claim of the ‘479 patent. Additionally, there were also allegations of indirect infringement when Humor Rainbow induced infringement of one or more claims of the ‘479 patent when their customers downloaded, installed, and used the OkCupid app.
Possible ways that the Lawsuit May Advance
Lawsuits can go in one direction in another. Sometimes the parties may opt for negotiations and an agreement. At other times, they may use other tools such as inter partes review (IPR). Or alternatively, they may just bring the case to court. Each of these options may have different outcomes and effects on the lawsuit. Although there may be more options, we will only be discussing the few mentioned above.
Negotiations and Agreements
The parties may attempt to negotiate to try to come to some sort of agreement. They may discuss patent rights, the scope of the patent rights, or even possibly some sort of settlement payment. At times, negotiations and agreements may be less expensive than litigation. However, parties do not always come to agreement with one another. Thus, agreements aren’t always viable.
IPR is an administrative proceeding where the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) assesses the validity of the patent rather than the courts. Generally, IPR assess novelty questions (35 U.S.C. 102) or obviousness questions (35 U.S.C. 103). IPR is also usually initiated 9 months after the patent is granted. Compared to bringing the case to court, IPR is generally less expensive, but still costly.
Bringing the Case to Court or Litigation
The parties can also elect to bring the case to court. The court can decide whether the patent is valid and whether there is infringement. Additionally, the court can consider defenses that the parties can raise. However, as noted above, litigation can be extremely expensive at times. Some cases go well into millions of dollars for costs and expenses. Additionally, there are times when litigation may not be as fast as IPR and thus, be a very time consuming process.
What are your thoughts on the OkCupid lawsuit? Leave a comment below to let us know what you think!
Interested in more intellectual property? Here’s a video!
SIGN UP TODAY!
Does this article interest you? Subscribe to the LoTempio Law email newsletter to receive posts and updates just like this conveniently in your email box!
If you’ve enjoyed this blog post, we have lots more where this came from, including an Inventors Guide Video Series where we help you turn your good idea into a profitable invention, and tons of other great content. Simply enter your email address and hit sign up and you’ll get everything, including blog posts like these, conveniently in your email box!
Have any questions? Give us a call at 1-800-866-0039. Consultations are FREE.
Disclaimer: This article is not legal advice. It is only for educational or entertainment purposes only. Please do not use the article or contents of the article without permission. For legal advice and questions, please contact registered Patent Attorney Vincent LoTempio.