Adult Industry in the eyes of intellectual property attorney - Maxine Lynn
Maxine Lynn is intellectual property attorney and owner of Unzipped Media has launched blog SexTechLaw.com and podcast BusinessOf.sex. The blog is focused on the unique legal, business and ethics challenges the adult industry faces. Podcast BusinessOf.sex, hosted by Maxine, where she provides engaging discussions with top experts and insiders to create a lens into the fascinating world of the adult industry from a business perspective.
We had the possibility to ask few question Maxine about her work.
Marta M.: Could you tell us little about yourself...
Maxine Lynn: I’m an intellectual property (IP) attorney with the law firm of Keohane & D’Alessandro, PLLC, having offices in Chicago and Albany, New York. I focus my practice on the prosecution of patents for the technology, trademarks for business brands, and copyrights for creative materials like music and movies. I am an inventor, myself, having a patent on a sex toy and several other patent applications still pending. In 2016, I opened Unzipped Media, Inc. featuring the Unzipped Sex, Tech & the Law® blog, the Sex Tech Patent IndeXXX® bulletin, and Unzipped The Business of Sex® show (podcast).
Marta M.: What first made you to decide to create a blog and a podcast?
Maxine Lynn: With a background in technology, I saw an immense opportunity for innovation in the Sex Tech space, which led me to file patent applications on my own inventions in the field. During my market research, I became fascinated with the multitude of legal issues, probably due to my experience as an IP attorney. As a business person, I thought about how these issues, as well as the unique nature of the adult industry, shape the way business is done. Additionally, I was captivated, simply as a human being, with how the incorporation of high-tech elements into sex toys and pornography (for example, virtual reality capabilities) has the potential to greatly affect and change the human mind, body, and interactions with others. I wanted to explore all of these topics, and share it with the industry and the world. So, the blog focuses on sex and the law, the bulletin focuses on Sex Tech and innovation, and the podcast focuses on the businesses of sex toys and porn.
Marta M.: Tell us a little about Unzipped Media? Why the sexual topic?
Maxine Lynn: Unzipped Media, Inc. is the publishing company for my blog, podcast, and patent news bulletin. The sex toy industry is reported to be a multibillion dollar business, but as the saying goes, “more money, more problems.” To name just a few of these problems – Patents are proliferating in the Sex Tech space, leading to an increase in patent litigation and “patent trolls.” There are calls for the Food and Drug Administration to provide safety regulations for sex toys, which have historically been largely unregulated. Ethical questions are arising, for example, surrounding sex with dolls and robots – yes, the robots are coming (pun very much intended).
In addition, the pornography industry has dealt with issues of trademark, copyright, and First Amendment for decades. The pirating of movies, in violation of copyright laws, has led to the demise of many porn production companies. The industry faces opposition, and borderline discrimination, everywhere from in the registration of trademarks containing adult language to the prohibition of applicable keyword advertising in search engines. …And these just make up the tip of the iceberg.
The Unzipped Sex, Tech & the Law blog, covers these topics and more, written from my unique perspective as an intellectual property lawyer. I draw on my expertise in patent, trademark, and copyright law, with a touch of humor, for an engaging yet informative point of view on the complexities faced by the adult industry in delivering, and profiting from, pleasure for sale.
Supplementing the blog is the Sex Tech Patent IndeXXX bulletin, which features a compilation of information relating U.S. utility patents that appear to fall under the general umbrella of “Sex Tech.” The bulletin lists patents on sex toys, sex furniture, and other technology meant to enhance sexual pleasure. It is a resource for reviewing the “latest and greatest” in the Sex Tech industry, as well as for monitoring associated trends.
In addition, the Unzipped The Business of Sex podcast will provide engaging discussions with top experts and insiders to create a lens into the intriguing world of the adult industry from a business perspective. It is a landscape peppered with truly unique challenges of taboo, law, ethics, and accordingly, day-to-day business. …And this matters, of course, to the industry, but reaches far beyond because how the industry, government, and society each deal with these issues greatly impacts the most intimate aspects of our lives – what we can have and cannot have, and what we can and cannot do… in the bedroom. The podcast is still in its early stages, but I expect it to be in publication very soon.
Marta M.: What is the idea behind it?
Maxine Lynn: The idea is to analyze and explore the intersections of law, business, and tech in the adult industry. I try to enhance the content by explaining things in terms that everyone can understand, not just lawyers. I also like to throw in some jokes and double entendres to make for an engaging experience, whether you choose to read the blog or listen to the podcast.
Marta M.: Where can you see the website and podcast going in the next couple of years?
Maxine Lynn: For the blog and patent news bulletin, I hope to continue to grow the content and make it a valuable resource for people in the adult industry, or those just curious to learn about it. The sex toy and high-tech porn (VR, AR, etc.) industries are exploding, and will exponentially grow over the next decade. There are many things, from a legal standpoint, that the industry needs to think be thinking about to prepare. I hope my blog will shine a light on such topics, rarely talked about, but very much needing attention.
For the podcast, I hope to interview industry insiders, experts, and technologists to get to the “heart” of various issues affecting the adult entertainment and sex toy industries. My goal is to make it a “go to” for in-depth analyses and perspectives on current news and for future predictions.
Marta M.: What is the best part of your work? What is most challenging about it?
Maxine Lynn: I think the best part is how fascinating it is. Issues facing the adult industry are very different from other areas. Questions relating to censorship, ethics, health, and taboo plague the industry. For example, several U.S. states are considering bills right now that would effectively require a porn blocker be installed on consumer devices sold within the state. The blocker could be removed by the purchaser after paying a fee. This creates issues of unlawful censorship and breach of First Amendment rights. If passed, such laws could have a devastating effect on the industry. The proposed legislation is said to be in an effort to reduce human trafficking. However, it is unclear, in my opinion (as well as in the opinions of many others), as to how these types of laws would really effectuate that. In any case, the discussion is being had, which brings interesting arguments from both sides. It is also these unique aspects of the adult industry that make things challenging (in a good way, of course). For example, finding ways to halt bills such as the porn blocker bills, or potentially, later have to work with or around them takes creativity in thought and action.
Marta M.: Is working as a lawyer for the adult industry any different from working for other industries?
Maxine Lynn: Yes, it is different because the adult industry deals with legal issues unlike any other. For example, the industry continually faces opposition, and borderline discrimination, from many fronts. Trademarks with “adult” words are banned from registration at many government trademark offices, including currently in the U.S. (where, however, such law is soon up for review by the Federal Circuit Court). Some governments in the U.S. and around the world still have laws prohibiting the sale of sex toys within the city, county, etc. And as I mentioned earlier, legislation is currently being considered that could require a blocker be installed on consumer electronic devices to block porn and sexually explicit content. These types of battles are being fought every day, making the practice of law “in the trenches” quite unique.
Marta M.: Anything else you would like to say to our readers?
Maxine Lynn: Take a few minutes to check out the blog, podcast, and patent news bulletin at www.Unzipped.Media. I hope you’ll find the information about this booming industry as intriguing as I do. The evolution of cultural norms, as well as the unprecedented ability to access “novelties” and pornography ushered in by the Internet, has enabled the adult industry to emerge from silence (because of taboo) to a multibillion dollar business serving the mainstream marketplace. You can join our mailing list at the website to receive updates in your email inbox to be at the forefront as things in the industry happen. Hope to see you there!