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Ex-Morgan Stanley Banker’s Muslim Dating App Violates Trademark, Match Says

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(Bloomberg) -- Match Group Inc. accused Muslim-only dating app Muzmatch Ltd. of free riding on its market leading success as part of a copyright infringement case in London.

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Match Group, the parent company of Match.com, Tinder and Hinge, accused Muzmatch of trade mark infringement for the use of the word “match” in its name, at the start of a trial on Monday.

“This is a clear case of free riding on the repute of the U.K. market leader in order to become a major player in the online dating and introductions market,” Tim Austen, Match Group’s lawyer, said in court filings.

Muzmatch was set up by Shahzad Younas in 2011 as a side project from his investment banking job at Morgan Stanley. It was created due to the taboos surrounding casual dating in the Muslim community and aimed to help single Muslims find marriage with a focus on Islamic values, Muzmatch’s lawyers said in documents prepared for the hearing.

The public is “perfectly well able to distinguish” between the two, helped by the distinct markets, they said. “This case is a classic example of a party seeking to monopolize an ordinary descriptive word which is commonly used by consumers and traders.”

Match Group has been pursuing the Muslim dating site for some time. It successfully challenged Muzmatch’s trademark registrations in the EU and the U.K. since 2016. While Muzmatch was found liable for infringing on Tinder’s trademarks in a U.K. court case last year, including referring to itself as the “Muslim Tinder.”

Match Group made several attempts to buy Muzmatch between 2017 and 2019 all of which were rejected by Younas, the dating app’s lawyer, Jessie Bowhill, said during the hearing. A Match Group spokesperson declined to comment on mergers and acquisitions.

(Updates with more detail from the hearing in last paragraph)

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