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Science and Technology Law

University of Michigan Law School

2021

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Illegal Sex Toy Patents, W. Nicholson Price Ii May 2021

Illegal Sex Toy Patents, W. Nicholson Price Ii

Reviews

In Patenting Pleasure, Professors Sarah Rajec and Andrew Gilden highlight a surprising incongruity: while many areas of U.S. law are profoundly hostile to sexuality in general and the technology of sex in particular, the patent system is not. Instead, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has over the decades issued thousands of patents on sex toys—from vibrators to AI, and everything in between. This incongruity is especially odd because patent law has long incorporated a doctrine that specifically tied patentability to the usefulness of the invention, and up until the end of the 20th century one strand of that …