Nabil Ghaly, an inventor based in New York City, has issued a lawsuit against OkCupid’s parent company Humor Rainbow (an IAC subsidiary) over claims it used dating technology that he holds the patent for.
The Egyptian-born engineer filed a patent for a portable matchmaking device in 1999, which was eventually approved in 2004.
Its description stated that singles would be asked a series of questions about their personality, and the results would determine whether or not two owners were compatible. When a match was made, the device would use lights and noises to make the experience more enjoyable.
According to Heavy.com, the original patent describes: “A personal hand held play device, method and apparatus, is disclosed which includes means to Store personal information related to the player, means to transmit or receive personal information to or from another device, means to match the Stored information with information received, and means to display the results of Such a match.
“One object of the device is to predict the degree of compatibility between two players using Stored information related to behavioral patterns and personality profiles. The device also matches areas of common interest between players.”
Ghaly asserts his idea was completely unique at the time, and that he should be credited for the innovation which he believes the OkCupid app benefits from. The brand didn’t file for a mobile dating app patent until 2013.
Humor Rainbow settled a similar lawsuit with Spark Networks in 2011, when it was found to have infringed a patent for a matching system that keeps ‘likes’ anonymous unless both parties have expressed interest in one other.
It’s not yet clear whether Ghaly will challenge other online dating companies or stop at OkCupid.
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