IAC sues Tinder co-founder over business documents, escalating court fight

FILE PHOTO: Sean Rad, CEO of Tinder, is seen during celebrations for Match Group’s IPO at the NASDAQ stock exchange, New York November 20, 2015. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

(Reuters) – Online dating company Match Group Inc (MTCH.O) and its owner IAC/InterActiveCorp (IAC.O) has filed a lawsuit accusing Sean Rad, a former employee known for co-founding the popular dating service Tinder, of secretly copying company files and other proprietary information.

The lawsuit, filed in state court in Manhattan on Tuesday evening, came six months after Rad and other Tinder co-founders sued IAC, accusing it of undervaluing Tinder to avoid paying them billions of dollars.

Tinder is one of several dating services under the umbrella of Match Group, which is mostly owned by IAC.

The lawsuit claims at least $250 million in damages.

IAC and Match’s complaint alleged that, in violation of an employment agreement, over several years Rad created backups of internal emails, forwarded company emails to a personal email address, and directly copied company files that included “highly sensitive, non-public information concerning his employers’ business strategies and plans.”

Orin Snyder, a lawyer for Los Angeles-based Rad, said in a statement that the lawsuit was “ridiculous” because Rad’s employment contract allowed him back up his email.

“Do IAC and Match really think the jury won’t see right through this desperate act of retaliation?,” Snyder said.

Rad’s lawsuit against IAC and Match, filed in August in state court in Manhattan, alleged the companies deliberately undervalued the Tinder dating app to limit how much money he and other employees could make from exercising stock options. IAC and Match denied the allegations.

Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Frances Kerry

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