Welcome to the home of the Unzipped Sex, Tech & the Law® blog and the Sex Tech Patent IndeXXX® bulletin. The blog features the unique perspective of intellectual property lawyer, Maxine Lynn. Having two patents of her own on sex toys, she has a particular interest in issues faced by the Sex Tech and pornography industries. Maxine draws on her expertise in patent, trademark, and copyright law, with a touch of humor, for an engaging yet informative point of view on the complexities faced by the adult industry in delivering, and profiting from, pleasure for sale.
The nature and history of the sex business brings unique legal, business, and ethics challenges. Sex Tech is reaching new frontiers. The evolution of cultural norms, as well as the unprecedented ability to access “novelties” and pornography ushered in by the Internet, has enabled the industry to emerge from silence enforced by taboo to a multibillion dollar business serving the mainstream marketplace. With change, however, comes the need to adapt laws and business practices, and resolve disputes of ethics among ideologies of progression verses those of tradition. This is rarely easy in any business, let alone the sex business.
Sex Tech, long covered by the fig leaf of “adult novelty products,” has come a far way from the days of vibrators with plastic phalluses and simple dual vibration settings. Today, sex toys are designed for men, women, and couples, and have internal processors, sensors, and virtual reality components. The sex toy industry is estimated to be a 15 billion dollar business. As the saying goes, however, “more money, more problems.” Patents are proliferating in the Sex Tech space, leading to patent wars and so-called “patent trolls.” There are calls for the Food and Drug Administration to provide safety regulations for sex toys, which have historically been largely unregulated. Ethical questions are arising, for example, surrounding sex with dolls and robots – yes, the robots are coming (pun much intended).
In addition, the pornography industry has dealt with issues of trademark, copyright, and First Amendment for decades. The pirating of movies, in violation of copyright laws, has led to the demise of many porn production companies. The industry faces opposition, and borderline discrimination on many fronts. Several states in the United States have declared porn a public health crisis. The Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) is threatening open access to online porn, in addition to creating many serious issues for the sex worker community. Adult content is blocked from access in many public Wi-Fi zones. Censorship is still a battle being fought every day.
Through articles, analyses, and interviews, the Unzipped Sex, Tech & the Law® blog examines these issues and more. The Sex Tech Patent IndeXXX® bulletin presents and synthesizes information relating to filings and issuances of patents in the Sex Tech space to detect and monitor trends. Statistics will be published for easy access and commentary.
Although the idea of thinking about sex toy and pornography issues may make some of us want to giggle, the Unzipped blog and bulletin will open your eyes to just how serious this business really is. Join us for the ride – It promises to be a wild one!