Recently the EAN magazine interviewed Frank Ferrari from we-vibe. The US company was granted the patent EP1824440. They applied in 2005. It took so long “at least in part to the filing of several third-party observations”. The patent is for a couple vibrator with a specific form. A couple vibrator is defined as a sex toy which permits sexual intercourse while inserted into the vagina.
Is this a patent which will destroy open-source sex toys in generel as it happened to Comingle? I don’t think so. You can still make a vibrator and sell it as long as it doesn’t have the form and functionality.
But: If you are interested in building couple vibrators (like we-vibe define them) then you have a problem. I don’t think the patent forbids every sex toy which can be inserted into the vagina while having sexual intercourse (sorry, but what is new about this??).
But if you design a similar form, equip it with vibrators then you definitely should consult your patent lawyer before selling it.
What is the unique about the form? Is it an innovation by we-vibe? Or is it rather a negative copy of a part of what we call genital area?
Or it is like giving a patent for T-shirts? A negative copy of the human upper body…
Maybe this is not a good example to blame patents. Maybe the EU patent agency has done a good job to grant a rather specific than general patent. Maybe we-vibe had enormous R&D efforts. Or they need enourmous effort to bring it into the market. And then a company makes a copy and sells it for the half of the price? Ok, then the we-vibe patent is ok.
My opinion: Patents are not good for innovation. They prevent innovations to become reality. They hinder competition. They support rich companies with large law departments. They promote lawyers and the economy of patents.