Sex Toy Wars! We-Vibe & Lelo Fight Over Distribution Rights
If you’re hot on your sex toy news, it won’t have escaped your notice that We-Vibe and LELO have been going head-to-head over the rights to distribute C-shaped, wearable vibes for couples in the USA. But why is there even a We-Vibe & LELO fight going on?
We-Vibe filed its original US patent 7,931,605 back in 2005 and when the original We-Vibe was released, it was a runaway success. Cosmopolitan US called it ‘A gift from the sex Gods’ and it received widespread media coverage with the likes of CNN and The New York Times. With such a recipe for success, it was all too tempting for other sex toy companies to follow the trend and try to create their own.
Since the release of the original We-Vibe, the brand have released several new versions of their best-selling vibrator for couples including We-Vibe 2, We-Vibe 3 and We-Vibe 4 . They’ve also created a very successful range of massagers and bullet vibrators that have received rave reviews. With such a body of fantastic products on the market, it’s easy to see why protecting their design is a top priority.
We-Vibe successfully fought off competition for several years until Swedish sex toy manufacturer Lelo took a bold plunge, releasing Lelo Tiani as part of its Insignia range. Tiani sought to improve on We-Vibes original design by housing the controls in a remote for easier operation. Unfortunately their first Tiani design fell short of expectations, with signal interruptions between the toy and remote causing the toy to cut out mid play. Since Tiani’s launch, Lelo have continued to work on its C-shaped vibes, releasing Tiani 2, Tiani 3, Noa and Intima Kalia (note that Kalia is on Amazon.com – Oops!).
To date, Lelo’s C-shaped vibes are banned from release in the US, leading sex toy fans to purchase the toys from abroad and import them under the radar of leading American sex toy distributors. This backdoor allows the Lelo products to sneak past the ban on US sales and has, for obvious reasons, left We-Vibe fuming.
Lelo continue to challenge the patent We-Vibe hold in an attempt to gain market ground for their vibes in the US. It doesn’t seem to be going too well, if a recent press release by We-Vibe is anything to go by. We-Vibe have two months to submit evidence and respond to Lelo’s challenges and they’re doing so very much in the public eye. With press releases flying around and media quotes doing the rounds, We-Vibe are making sure that this latest challenge doesn’t go unnoticed by other brands considering the release of similar designs.
“This proceeding was initiated by Lelo Inc. as yet another attempt to circumvent the US International Trade Commission ruling last year that found Lelo infringed the We-Vibe patent… Standard Innovation’s We-Vibe patent remains valid and in force. After a complete and thorough investigation, the International Trade Commission concluded that the We-Vibe patent is valid. The ITC banned the import and sale of all infringing products in the US.”
Will the next hearing see a different outcome? Apparently that’s unlikely. We-Vibe state that Lelo have nothing new to submit that could lead to a different result, but I have a feeling they must have something up their sleeve to bring this old case back into the light of day. Only time will tell!
– Hella Rude
This article contains affiliate links.