WASHINGTON—Fleshlight parent company Interactive Life Forms has filed a patent infringement case against 25 prominent sex toy manufacturers and distributors alleging illegal use of its patents and trademarks.
The suit, filed June 30 in U.S. District Court in Austin, Texas, seeks actual, compensatory and punitive damages and a permanent injunction that would enjoin the defendants from using the company’s patents and trademarks.
Prominent defendants in the suit include California Exotic Novelties, Pipedream Products, Tenga, Topco Sales, Eldorado Trading, Honey’s Place, Liberator, Nalpac, Williams Trading Co., Adam & Eve and LFP Internet.
Fleshlight is alleging that the defendants variously produce, distribute and sell products that violate its patents.
“There are about six, and as many as eight, products that are in violation of at least one of our patents,” Fleshlight Executive Vice President Brian Shubin told AVN. “Each company that’s named in this is in one way violating a patent or trademark.
“This honestly is really only about the manufacturers. The rest of the companies named in here are selling the products that are in violation, but a lot of those companies we have good relationships with and we don’t want to hurt those relationships. So they’ll be provided an easy way out of this.”
The suit centers around two patents Fleshlight owner Steve Shubin obtained, one for a “device for discreet sperm collection” shaped like a flashlight or thermos and another that protects the company’s proprietary creation of elastomeric gel inside the sex toy. Fleshlight obtained a trademark for its name and brand in February 1999.
“We’ve got some patents that we paid a lot of money for and spent a lot of time developing and it’s one of those things where we’ve created a market segment and others are capitalizing on it,” Shubin said. “It’s not only our right to defend these patents, it’s our obligation.”
Shubin said that the knockoff or confusingly similar products were brought to its attention through wholesale customers or employees.
Ultimately, Fleshlight hopes to come to an amicable resolution with all the defendants but Shubin said that it all depends on how egregious the alleged violations were and how closely the defendants work toward a resolution.
“All resolutions are still on the table right now,” Shubin said. “We’re not looking to put people out of business; we’re not necessarily looking for a royalty. Everything is on the table right now. This could go full term or it could be settled. It’d just be speculation at this point.”
When reached for comment, CalExotics’ Al Bloom said that he would have “no comment at this time.”
“Topco has not been served with the lawsuit," Topco Sales Director of Business Affairs Stanley M. Chernoff told AVN. "However, we are aware that the lawsuit has been filed and alleges patent infringement. Topco is confident that it does not manufacture or sell any products that infringe the Fleshlight patent and shall vigorously defend itself against such allegations.”