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2022

Law and Society

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Pleasure Patents, Andrew Gilden, Sarah R. Wasserman Rajec Feb 2022

Pleasure Patents, Andrew Gilden, Sarah R. Wasserman Rajec

Faculty Publications

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has granted thousands of patents for inventions whose purpose is to facilitate the sexual pleasure of their users. These "pleasure patents" raise a range of novel questions about both patent theory and the relationship between law and sexuality more broadly. Given that "immoral" inventions were long excluded from the patent system, and that sexual devices were widely criminalized for much of the past 150 years, how have patentees successfully framed the contributions of their sexual inventions? If a patentable invention must be both new and useful, how have patentees described the utility of …