SecretPoke is a nice startup that helps you find out anonymously if your crushes are requited. (We covered them here.) Today they posted a letter from the lawyers of a competing startup, Secretement Votre (“Secretely Yours”), which has a similar concept, asking them to change their name (you see, they both have the word “secret” in them) and their concept.
What can the French startup enthusiast say other than “This is why we can’t have nice things“?
We shouldn’t even have to point this out, but startups always draw inspiration from each other, and even (gasp!) copy each other. There were dozens of competing social networks in the early 2000s, and the ones who executed the best won, and the others lost. That’s how it works.
As a non-lawyer who did go to French law school, they don’t seem to have any legal grounds here. (Irritatingly, the lawyer who wrote the letter also has sloppy spelling and grammar.) It’s ridiculous to think only they can use the term “secret” in their name in a dating concept. The letter also mentions “parasitism”, a legal concept that prevents companies from seeking to profit from another company’s brand or investments, but we struggle to see how this could be the case here. (We’d never heard of Secretement Votre before.)
The SecretPoke guys have posted the letter with a good-humour post, cheekily saying Secretement Votre is asking them for a date and hinting they’re ready to go to court over this. They end with: “One thing is for sure: Secretement Votre wants to screw us. :)”
UPDATE: We spoke with an actual corporate lawyer who confirmed that there’s no legal case here. A French expression they used to describe the cease and desist letter might be best translated as “a f—ing joke.”