All too often, patent cases are dry, tedious and just plain BORING. Occasionally, however, we encounter a case which provides “excitement” and “stimulation” and, ultimately, “satisfaction” – or at least the patented invention does such. (Hassex, Inc. and New Frontier Technologies Corporation v. Internet Services, LLC, Inc. and WMM Holdings, LLC.)
Hassex is the owner, and New Frontier is the exclusive licensee, of U.S. Patent No. 6,368,268 entitled, “Method and Device for Interactive-Virtual Control of Sexual Aids Using Digital Computer Networks.” As set forth in the patent, “the invention relates to sexual aids that are controlled through personal computers and digital computer networks, such as the internet, by user interactive programs,” so as, inter alia, “to provide a multi-media event, such as a prerecorded video feed, that automatically operates a stimulation aid located at a user interface.” Clearly this is a giant technological leap over the non-interactive inflatable dolls advertised in certain men’s magazines and, therefore, is deserving of a government-issued patent.
Internet Services and WMM Holdings are producers of “adult oriented videos” which they distribute over the internet. Hassex and New Frontier have sued Internet Services and WMM Holdings, alleging infringement of the `268 patent by a product named “REAL TOUCH.” As described in its product literature, the REAL TOUCH, which sells for $250, is essentially a motorized, computer-controlled, artificial vagina or rectum equipped with a heating unit and a “lube reservoir.” The computer controls the motors to synchronize what a user feels with what he sees on a video, so that, “at any time,” he can “experience what it’s like to have sex with the most beautiful porn stars.”
The foregoing, however interesting, is merely background information. Hassex and New Frontier have alleged that the infringement is both “direct” and “indirect.”
As to “direct” infringement, the defendants are, allegedly, “making, offering for sale, or using” the REAL TOUCH product.
As to “indirect” infringement, the defendants have, allegedly, “knowingly and actively induced infringement … by causing others to manufacture, or by encouraging others to offer for sale, sell or use, the REAL TOUCH product …” and have “contributed to the infringement … by offering to sell or selling … or importing into the United States the REAL TOUCH product knowing the same to be especially made or especially adapted for use in an infringement of the `268 Patent, and not a staple article or commodity of commerce suitable for substantial noninfringing use.” (We certainly hope that the REAL TOUCH “is not a staple article or commodity of commerce.”)
So there it is. In addition to cases dealing with patent mismarking, attorney malpractice and individuals impermissibly downloading songs onto their computers, the federal courts are now being called upon to adjudicate the rights of patentees of high-tech sex toys and purveyors of naughty videos. Your tax dollars at work.