CHICAGO—Teledildonics, sex robots, and an intellectual property lawyer might seem like an odd grouping, but for 32 year-old Chicago attorney Maxine Lynn, it’s a perfect match. In a world where sex devices, like remote controlled dildos, ultra-life-like sex dolls, and VR porn are exploding from the underground into bedrooms around the globe, Lynn is launching a blog and podcast to explore the intersections of sex, technology, and the law.
Technological and cultural breakthroughs have enabled the sex tech and pornography industries to become multi-billion dollar businesses, but not without significant continuing challenges.
“My own interest in developing sex toys that I’ve invented led me to realize that these industries deal with truly unique issues,” said Lynn. “The adult industry faces a conglomeration of obstacles unlike any other, and they bear as much importance to the consumers as they do for the producers. It’s time to spark a real discussion.”
The blog, styled "Unzipped: Sex, Tech and the Law," features in-depth articles from Lynn and guest contributors on the complexities faced by the adult industry in delivering, and profiting from, pleasure for sale. Lynn brings a unique perspective, having a decade of experience as an intellectual property lawyer focused on patents, trademarks, and copyrights. The blog’s introductory article takes a look at "The Teledildonics Patent," and how it, under the wing of a patent troll, almost stopped innovation in remote sex devices in its tracks.
Patents, though, are only one of the many complications in the sex tech business. The potential for data breaches or hacks into sex toys connected to the “Internet of Things” are serious dangers, and have already prompted at least one class action lawsuit. In addition, ethical questions are arising, for example, with regard to sex dolls, such as what happens when they are made to look like children?
The pornography industry has dealt with a multitude of issues of its own. An article published on the Unzipped blog looks at yet another patent troll, this time targeting a major provider of porn websites. Additionally, pirating of movies in violation of copyright laws has led to the demise of several porn production companies. The industry deals with opposition, and borderline discrimination, from many fronts. Trademarks including adult language are denied as “immoral” at government trademark offices. Major search engines have prohibited sexually-explicit keyword advertising, and adult websites are restricted from access in public Wi-Fi zones. In California, the failed Prop60 tried to tighten regulations on usage of condoms in sex scenes, and Britain’s government currently has a bill under consideration which would regulate the nature of sex acts allowed to be shown in porn scenes online.
The podcast titled "Unzipped The Business of Sex" will feature discussions of these topics and more with technologists, attorneys, sex educators, and other stakeholders and pundits.
"As the host, I’ll draw on my expertise in technology and law, as well as my experience in just being human," said Lynn. "For example, we’ll explore the impact of high-tech sex and porn technologies simply from a human perspective. What will sex look like in 10 years, or 20? How will humans interact with one another in the bedroom—or even will they? Will new technologies make sex with human partners obsolete?"
Lynn's company, Unzipped Media, Inc., is simultaneously rolling out the Sex Tech Patent IndeXXX bulletin. The bulletin includes a growing compilation of statistics relating to patents on sex toys/tech, condoms, and other sexual aids. It provides links to various newly issued sex tech patents, along with categorizations and summary information. Using a proprietary search formula and unique categorization algorithm, the bulletin provides a trend-monitoring resource, not previously available, for people in the sex tech industry or those just curious to learn about it. Currently, the inaugural edition is available, which covers the first half of 2016. The next edition, covering the second half will be released in February of 2017.
“A patent index may not be as exciting as a new sex toy or genre of porn, but for the adult industry, it is every bit as important,” Lynn notced. “Hard information and stats about new sex technologies are available at the bulletin, with related topics and analyses on the blog and podcast. Together they put the state of this booming industry at a user’s finger tips.”