The future of open-source SexTech has been rendered unstable after a number of companies in the sector had an unexpected lawsuit filed against them by patent trolls.
On July 20th – without warning – some of the key players in SexTech were issued writs by a consortium of individuals who claim to hold rights to any and all teledildonics operations worldwide.
The people bringing the suit are classified as a “Non-Practicing Entity” meaning they hold patents, but do not make anything themselves. These are the companies sometimes heard of pejoratively to as “patent trolls“; parasites who use litigation as a weapon to pick on companies and individuals who may not be able to fight back as strongly as others. The popular HBO satirist gives a full and thorough run-down of patent trolls here:
The parties bringing the suit claim that a patent they currently hold applies to all teledildonics operations. They argue that the companies named as defendants are in violation by having a “browser based platform for controlling the devices.” They have claims against a person remotely operating a toy with another person.
Owing to the structures of patent law, many companies who are issued with such suits choose to settle out of court as such cases have the propensity to drag on for years and allow costs to spiral upward into the millions. Call it strong-arming, extortion… whatever you choose to deem it, it’s a bullying tactic designed to generate easy cash for the patent trolls.
The companies named as defendants are ultimately small, new entities trying to carve out their own niche in a growing sector. Without having the massive resources needed to fight a legal battle, they need as much help as possible. This is where the SexTech community comes in.
BaDoink has long documented and lamented the problems faced by SexTech start ups in an openly hostile mainstream market. Companies and individuals are routinely turned away by banks, creditors, stockists, sales outlets and distributors for having the temerity to trade in a sector deemed bad news by these new puritans. And now? They’re at the mercy of vultures hiding behind legal loopholes who want to hop on a bandwagon that left the station a long time before they even got out of bed. It’s frustrating. It’s a disgrace. It’s time it was stopped. Right now.
Right now, the best way you can help is to find:
1. Prior art for computer, network, or internet controlled (sexual) stimulation devices created before August 1997. It needs to be items that:
a) Existed and were publicly available
b) Are dated in some way
2. A pro-bono patent lawyer who would be willing to help those affected with this case.
If you are able to help or provide any of this information, reach out to us via our contact form.
In an effort to help the wider cause, Comingle has set up an Indiegogo Patent Troll Defense Fund campaign, which you can find HERE.
We want to know what you think about this development. Legal expert? SexTech company? Concerned individual? We want to hear what you have to say so be sure to let us know.