In dating world, ‘J’ has become letter of contention

In dating world, ‘J’ has become letter of contention

The online Jewish dating market has become so competitive that longtime frontrunner JDate has sued JSwipe, one of its chief rivals, claiming, among other things, that JSwipe infringed on several of its trademarks that use the letter “J” prefix.

The “JDate” trademark “signifies to consumers a singular source in the online dating marketplace for the Jewish community,” according to the complaint filed late last year by JDate’s parent company.

JDate may have a hard time proving its claim.

“It is extraordinarily difficult to claim exclusive trademark rights to a letter, such as ‘J’,” according to John Thomas III, managing partner of Beck & Thomas, a Pittsburgh intellectual property law firm. Moreover, Thomas said, “If JDate claims that the ‘J’ stands for ‘Jewish,’ then it runs into the problem that the mark might be what trademark lawyers refer to as ‘generic,’ in this instance describing a Jewish dating site.  Trademark protection is not available for generic terms.”

To help pay for its legal fees, JSwipe founder David Yarus has launched an IndieGogo campaign, which he dubbed “David vs. Goliath.” His aim is to raise $180,000 to offset litigation costs.

While JSwipe is a free app, JDate charges for membership. Its parent company, Spark Network, which owns several other dating sites, including Christian Mingle, collects about $50 million in membership fees each year, according to a report in The Forward.

Marc Goldmann, founder of JBolt, does not seemed concerned by the lawsuit.

“I didn’t know JDate owned the letter ‘J,’” Goldmann said. “Other organizations, like JStreet, use it. ‘J’ stands for Jewish, and JDate took the ‘J’ because it’s a Jewish dating site. If they decide to sue us for our ‘J’ we will worry about it at that time.”

Other Jewish dating apps and sites featuring the ‘J’ prefix include JCrush and JWed.

— Toby Tabachnick

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