WASHINGTON Couples in the United States looking to spice up their sex lives will have to do without certain adult toys after a U.S. trade panel ruled on Monday that some companies are violating a patent held by a Canadian company for a two-armed vibrator.
The U.S. International Trade Commission found that vibrator maker Lelo Inc as well as distributors and a retailer infringe on Standard Innovation Corp's patent for a two-armed vibrator that couples can use during intercourse.
Standard Innovation, which is based in Ottawa, Ontario, and is privately held, filed an infringement complaint against Lelo and a long list of other companies in early 2012, accusing them of infringing on Standard's patent for the adult toys, designed to be worn while a couple has sex.
On its website Standard Innovation describes the We-Vibe family of vibrators as "a global sensation."
The commission's ruling overturns a preliminary ruling by an ITC judge, who found in January that the patent holder did not have enough commercial activity in the United States to have standing to prevail at the ITC.
The full commission disagreed.
It banned the sale of vibrators made by Lelo Inc and distributed or sold by Nalpac Enterprises Ltd, Williams Trading Co, Honey's Place Inc and Lover's Lane & Co.
The ITC is a popular venue for patent fights because its docket moves fairly quickly and since it can order a sales ban for any device which infringes a patent.
The case at the International Trade Commission is 337-823.
(This story has been fixed to correct name of infringing company and description of infringing companies in second paragraph. It deletes an inaccurate reference in the fifth paragraph and fixes references to companies in paragraph seven)
(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Leslie Adler)