A Muslim dating service has become the latest litigant to reveal the result of a draft judgment before it is handed down by sending an embargoed press release to journalists about its defeat in a trademark case.
Muzmatch’s founder has joined lawyers representing the Duke of Sussex, Swiss bank Banque Pictet and the Welsh government’s law officer in receiving a rebuke from the courts for breaching embargoes on draft judgments in recent months.
The online matchmaking service for Muslims was found last month to have infringed trademarks held by Match Group, the company behind dating app Tinder. The day before the ruling was handed down, Muzmatch’s founder Shahzad Younas offered to provide an embargoed press release revealing that his company had lost its ‘fight with Match Group to keep its name’ to 10 journalists. He sent Twitter messages to six of them.
Younas then sent the press release to ‘various journalists who had agreed to respect the embargo’ he had imposed. He also had email exchanges and phone conversations with some of them, Nicholas Caddick QC, sitting as a High Court judge, said in a ruling today.
In a witness statement, Younas said he ‘wholeheartedly apologises to the court’ and explained that he ‘honestly believed that he could communicate the outcome of the case and share a press release with journalists provided it was done on a strictly confidential basis’, Caddick said.
The judge found Younas had committed a ‘serious breach of the embargo’ but accepted that it was ‘a genuine mistake’, saying it is ‘appropriate to accept Mr Younas’ apology as resolving the matter’.
He also noted that Match does not intend to initiate formal contempt proceedings, adding: ‘I do not see the need for the court to do so of its own initiative whether to punish Mr Younas for his past actions or to educate other litigants as to the very serious nature of the embargo.’
The judge will determine Match’s application for its costs of dealing with the issue of the embargo breach at a hearing later this month, indicating his preliminary view that ‘it may well be appropriate’ to order costs on an indemnity basis.
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