Fish & Richardson Secures Appellate Win for Bumble Involving Rare Legal Doctrine

On September 8, 2023, Fish & Richardson secured an appellate victory for Bumble, a platform that connects and empowers members to build healthy and equitable relationships. Following oral argument the previous day, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled in favor of Bumble in a summary affirmance without a written opinion.

The plaintiffs, Ikorongo Technology and Ikorongo Texas, sought to overturn U.S. District Court Judge Alan Albright’s March 2022 eve-of-trial summary judgment decision, which found that the two asserted patents were invalid under Section 251’s “Original Patent Requirement.” This infrequently litigated legal doctrine requires, for example, that the original patent’s specification clearly and unequivocally disclose what is claimed in a broadening reissue.

In a resounding victory, the Fish team persuaded two courts – Judge Albright and the Federal Circuit – that Ikorongo’s patents failed to meet this strict standard.

“We are thrilled to have achieved this outcome for Bumble, especially given the rarity and complexity of this legal doctrine,” said Fish principal and lead counsel Noah Graubart. “This suit should never have been brought against Bumble, and we are pleased that the courts agreed and expeditiously ruled in Bumble’s favor.”

A Bumble Inc. spokesperson added, “Bumble is grateful that the Federal Circuit affirmed Judge Albright’s well-reasoned summary judgment in Bumble’s favor. Bumble values innovation and respects valid intellectual property rights, and it will continue to defend itself vigorously against any unmeritorious infringement claims.”

Ikorongo filed this patent infringement case against Bumble in 2020, and it involved two patents related to technology for computer users to share certain “computer usage experiences” with other users. Ikorongo accused Bumble’s popular online dating app of infringing its patents by using and displaying certain aspects of users’ geographic locations.

In addition to Noah Graubart, the Fish team included Ruffin Cordell, Jeffrey Barclay, Leonard Davis, Betty Chen, Andrew Pearson, Benjamin Thompson, Jacqueline Tio, Ashley Bolt, Sara Fish, and Joon Chung.