Pulling the Plug

A patent protecting the broad concept of “teledildonics” has recently expired, potentially paving the way for a wave of sex toys that can be controlled over the internet.

Teledildonics, also known as cyberdildonics, is a term to describe sex toys that can be plugged into a device, such as a computer, tablet or smartphone, and link to other sex toys and interactive applications over the internet, giving users the possibility to interact with sexual partners over long distances.

The patent, originally filed in 1998, includes descriptions of systems where stimulation devices are linked via transmitters to computers equipped with video cameras, capable of then connecting to and interacting with other such systems and pre-recorded video across the internet.

Many view this particular patent as having stifled development of this technology for several years, with the company that had owned the rights filing 10 lawsuits alleging infringement between 2015 and 2017, leading them to be labelled a “patent troll” and gaining notoriety in the industry. The expiration of the patent now potentially removes a large barrier to new development in this area.

However, despite cheers and applause from sex toy innovators, expiration of this single patent doesn’t necessarily mean a green light to a free-for-all for new teledildonics products. While on the surface it may look like a golden opportunity, other inventors will no doubt hold patents and intellectual property covering different areas of this technology, so even with one significant obstacle removed the wider legal minefield remains present. You are just a bit less likely to get sued.

As always, it’s important to continue to do your due diligence to ensure that your product doesn’t infringe anyone else’s intellectual property and land you and your business in hot water. Make use of the services of a patent attorney to help you discover the potential pitfalls and barriers to your product development early on in the process to avoid costly legal action and redesigns later on. It is important that you have a good understanding of the intellectual property landscape of your industry.

We as your product designers can then help you to come up with solutions that circumvent the rights held by your competitors and put valuable IP into your own hands.

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