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I'm currently developing a dating app. It has some features similar to Grindr/Tindr, but the overall idea is incredibly different. I found that Zoosk, Grindr, and JDate all have patents on certain gps/matching features, and I'm wondering how strict patent law is in this regards. There are HUNDREDS of apps, and THOUSANDS of websites utilizing features that would seemingly go against these broad patents, but not really any law suits that I've heard of.

Is this because the apps/websites are just small fish at the moment? Perhaps they have licenses from those patent holders? Perhaps they changed the methodology of getting such matches, etc?

I don't understand how such simple ideas such as "if A likes B, and B likes A, message and let them both know" can be patented... But JDate does have such a patent and it's been active for 14 years now... Wouldn't EVERY single App like OKCupid, Tinder conflict?


Grind has SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR PROVIDING LOCATION-BASED CASCADING DISPLAYS US 8,606,297 B1 (12/2013).

JDATE has METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR DETECTION OF RECIPROCAL INTERESTS OR FEELINGS AND SUBSEQUENT NOTIFICATION 5,950,200 (9/1999).

Zoosk has SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR IDENTIFYING NEARBY’ COMPATIBLE USERS US2013/0145288A1 (6/2014).

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First and foremost, it's quite common for companies to cross-license patents. In that situation, for a totally hypothetical example, Grindr might approach Zoosk and say "we have [this patent] that we think you'd be interested in, and you have [this patent] that we're interested in, how about we allow each other to use the other's at no cost?" It's much more complicated than that, and generally there is a financial aspect ("our patent brings $20 worth of value, but yours is only $10. Pay us $10 in addition to rights to use your patent"), but that's the gist. So it's quite possible that that's gone on here.

As for the smaller dating apps, it's possible that they're either doing things subtly differently, or else yes, they likely have licensing deals. Obviously there's no necessity for a patent holder to enforce it, so it's possible that these big players don't consider them lawsuit-worthy, but in most cases there would be licensing going on of some sort. So to answer your series of questions, yes, it's probably one of those three. Unfortunately I don't know details about which it might be.

No, admittedly, in a majority of cases, I look at questions like this and find that the patents are actually quite specific, but you've got me with these ones. They are pretty broad. Not unreasonably so--I don't know off-hand of any prior art for them--but broad all the same. So yeah, I'd hazard a guess that they probably have licensing set up.

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