Who Says Patent Lawsuits Aren't Sexy?

from the cybersex-it-is dept

Joe Mullin has the details of a rather bizarre patent dispute involving a patent covering the user interface of force feedback technology used in "cybersex" or "teledildonics." You may have heard of the company Immersion, which, for years, has claimed to hold pretty much all patents on "haptic" technology, which most people are familiar with in the form of "force feedback" game controllers for console games. Some feel that Immersion's patents are overly broad, but that's beside the point on this one. Apparently, at some point, Immersion realized that there was going to be (or already was) a decent sized market in using such haptic technology for virtual sex. Yet, at the same time, the company felt uncomfortable about filing infringement lawsuits on such uses, recognizing that it could lead to negative publicity. So, instead, it licensed out the patents and the right to sue for infringement to a company called Internet Services, LLC (ISLLC), which (from the description in Mullin's article) sounds like a shell company just for this purpose.

However, when Immersion won its patent infringement lawsuit against Sony for its use of force feedback controllers on Sony gaming consoles, ISLLC apparently felt that Immersion owed it some of the proceeds. It hired famed patent attorney (and patent system expert) Mark Lemley to represent it. However, for somewhat unclear reasons, Lemley now appears to want nothing whatsoever to do with ISLLC and has asked to withdraw from the case. ISLLC has now hired other lawyers just to force Lemley to still represent it in its lawsuit against Immersion. It's like a patent battle soap opera -- complete with sex toys. See, just because stories are about patents, doesn't mean that they're not sexy.

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  • identicon
    Ferin, 9 May 2008 @ 4:41am

    Prior art

    I would think the folks at slashdong might be able to dig up some prior art to set these folks down.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Haywood, 9 May 2008 @ 5:01am

    That open up interesting possibilities

    I envision; hookup sites where owners of gender specific force feedback devices could enjoy each others passion, remotely. Best of all no STDs, at least so long as everyone had their own device.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lon, 9 May 2008 @ 6:00am

    new favorite word, "teledildonics"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      KB, 9 May 2008 @ 8:48am


      Ha ha ha ha. You beat me to it :)

      And Haywood - how about meeting girls and skinning up mate? Worked for generations, I'm sure if you stop watching as much Alais and shave your designer stubble some fat chick at 2am will go home with you!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    GeneralEmergency (profile), 9 May 2008 @ 10:26am


    Ahhhh....Mike.... Mikey buddy.

    If its your birthday, just come out and -say- so. No need to hint around and be coy with us. We're your fans!

    Let's all sing! Come on now...

    Hap-py birth-day to you.
    Hap-py birth-day to you.
    Hap-py birth-day Dear Mikey....
    Hap-py birth-day to you.

    Ok, now don't forget, we each have to send a quarter to ASCAP.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Eric J. White, 10 May 2008 @ 4:24am


    While all the armchair inventors were talking about it, we actually went out and invented the damn thing.....more than 10 years ago, and it's still going strong.

    VirtualSexMachine Dot Com

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    qDot, 11 May 2008 @ 5:13pm

    Oh lord

    Awww, shucks, Eric, never missin' a chance to claim you started this stuff, are ya, not that Reingold coined the term 10 years before you 'invented' it, and Stelarc and Trudy Baker, among others, had working versions in the early 90's? Besides, you already got a mention in the original article (speaking of, please pull teledildonics.com out of the 90's, designwise). -.^

    Aaaaaaaanyways, to actually contribute to the conversation, this is just odd. I had no idea Immersion was playing the shell game with teledildonics, or at least, the vibratey versions of them. There's been various C&Ds between all sorts of vibrator makers for a while. I've never been able to get any good information on them, though. Sex toy companies are none too forthcoming with their legal details, imagine that. Even so, I'm not sure how much prior art could work here. I mean, teledildonics, in its vibration form, is just force feedback applied to a certain part of the body, which is pretty much what Immersion owns. However, I haven't read all the patents, nor do I really care to. This is just opinion formed on what I've heard over the years talking.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Eric J White, 13 Sep 2009 @ 11:31pm

      Re: Oh lord

      Oh geeezzz, try to get your facts straight.
      I don't control Teledildonics.com (If you bothered to check the whois...)Much as I'd like to.
      Teledildonic.com, yes, teledildonic.net, yes, .org, yes.

      You see, I HAVE made a significant investment in the art. Not just tearing apart other people's work.
      And much as you hate to admit it, we are the company with the first viable commercial product, and the very first one synchronized to the action, actually creating Virtual Reality Sex.

      You can whine and kick all you want, but the facts are the facts.

      If you REALLY want to draw a line in the sand, you have to go back to "Brainstorm" the movie, circa 1982, which is before Rheingold. But I'm happy to give him the credit for the term.

      What we ARE talking about here is patent, and prior art, something I know a little about. ...not clever words and ideas in someone's head.

      Prior art for patents requires "reduction to practice." So, instead of "contributing" your thoughts and/or opinions, let's work with the FACTS, Huh?

      I'm not sure what your one man vendetta is against our product, but I wish you'd get over it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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