It all started on 17 August 1998 when three men, Warren J Sandvick, Jim W Hughes, and David Alan Atkinson peeked into the future and saw how humans might get off. No, they didn't invent a time machine, but they did slap a patent which was broadly implied upon internet-controlled sex toys.
The patent was then transferred to Hassex Inc and then to Tzu Technologies in 2015. A sigh of relief swept through the sex-toy innovators on 17 August 2018 as they finally are free of the 20 years long toxic relationship between them and the patent law.
According to an article in Motherboard, Tzu technologies sued and killed several companies by claiming that they violated the patent. One of the companies was an open source vibrator called the Comingle as mentioned in a report in the Vice. Several of the teledonics start up caught in this bombardment were forced to pay more than $50,000 to Tzu.
The three men called the patent as “Method and device for interactive virtual control of sexual aids using digital computer networks,” or US Patent Number 6,368,268.
In 11 diagrams and with a least exciting explanation about one of the most adrenaline filled activities the patent showed how computers could connect to a device that can be connected to several other devices thus making someone get you off, online making distance purely technical.
The patent was so broad that company Tzu was crowned by the Electronic Frontier Foundation as the Stupid Patent of the Month in 2015. “Doing it with a computer (literally) does not make something patentable,” the organisation wrote.
A similar notion of letting someone get you off through the internet was described in the Chicago Tribune in an essay by David Rothchild. Called "High-Tech Sex", five years before the patent took birth.
He described it as “the virtual-reality technology that may one day allow people wearing special bodysuits, headgear and gloves to engage in tactile sexual relations from separate, remote locations via computers connected to phone lines,”
Teledildonics was coined by Ted Nelson in 1975. Promoters of such computer-controlled sex toys claimed that this would be the "next big thing" in cybersex technology which surely doesn't seem wrong.
Along with the patent, the stigma surrounding the topic has also shooed away many creators to keep their creativity to themselves. The report in Gizmodo states how Maxine Lynn, an intellectual property attorney in the sex-tech space that this stigma has long kept talent out and also made investors weary of investing in new ventures.
But the end of the patent has given a new hope to the blooming inventors of the sex-toy industry. Here are a few tweets by all the patent-haters expressing their happiness.
Hey all, you know Teledildonics, where you have two sex toys that respond to each other, allowing sexual interaction through the interwebs? Well, the reason you don't see much of it is that's been patented for years.
That patent expires...
— Funkit Kenton (@FunkitToys) August 16, 2018
Oh Frabjous Day, Calloo Callay! Today marks the expiration of US Patent #6,368,268: "Method and device for interactive virtual control of sexual aids using digital computer networks." That's right, kiddo-- TELEDILDONICS IS NOW OPEN-SOURCE! Who wants to set up a workshop with me? pic.twitter.com/uSb79jESgk — Christopher M. Cates 🏳️🌈 (@seneca) August 17, 2018
The Teledildonics Patent expires today. High-tech sex toys will soon be making wet dreams come true all over the globe!! https://t.co/iR3nfEEGWS#SexToys #Tech #Sex #Patent #Patents #IP #Law #Litigation #Attorney #Teledildonics #Vibrators #Biz #TeledildonicsPatent #Innovation
— Maxine Lynn (@SexTechLaw) August 17, 2018
hooray, the teledildonics patent expired today — prototype27 (@prototype27) August 18, 2018