by AXF Team | 4 Minutes With
4 Minutes With Maxine Lynn
Welcome to the latest of our new ‘Four Minutes With…’ features, where we sit down and speak with leading CEOs and business professionals and ask them for their top tips and insights into starting a business. In this interview we are joined by Maxine Lynn who as an intellectual property lawyer works with adult and mainstream clients. Check out her law practice at www.Sextech.Lawyer and her blog at www.SexTechLaw.com.
Maxine focuses her practice on prosecution of patents for technology, trademarks for business brands, and copyrights for creative materials like music and movies. She also assists clients in licensing transactions, manufacturing and development agreements, and litigation. In addition, Maxine publishes the Unzipped Sex, Tech & the Law blog at www.SexTechLaw.com.
1. Working as a lawyer in both the mainstream and adult sectors have you found one needs to protect its business more than the other?
All businesses need to protect themselves from a legal standpoint, whether they are in adult or mainstream. However, adult businesses have to jump through extra hoops as compared to mainstream companies. For example, municipalities usually make it extremely difficult for adult businesses to “set up shop.” Strip clubs, novelty stores, and adult video retailers have fought many battles over unfair zoning ordinances… and, unfortunately, have lost in great number. Although mainstream companies are also subject to zoning laws, adult businesses are typically treated differently – basically, it’s discrimination because of stigma.
2. When companies are launching a new product in to the adult sector what are the main checks they should be making first?
First, to manage their risk, they need to be sure to form a corporate entity, i.e. a corporation or an LLC, as well as get proper insurance policies. They then should evaluate what intellectual property protection they need to secure. For example, most companies are going to have brand names that will become valuable over time. It’s extremely important that trademark applications be filed to secure the names. For pleasure products companies, if there is something innovative about their products, patent applications should be filed to protect their rights in the devices. For content production companies, such as porn producers, copyright applications should be filed to protect their rights in films and images. From there, business operators should check with their attorney each time they make a substantial change to their product or business practices to be sure that they don’t run awry of any laws or inadvertently leave any rights on the table.
3. What is the one key piece of business advice you could offer companies when they are launching a new project or business?
Though I imagine a lawyer is not at the top of their list of where they want to spend their initial start-up cash, a little time with a lawyer can go a long way. It’s generally much less expensive to prevent a problem than to fix it. So, make an investment at the outset in getting your legal ducks in a row – When you dodge a bullet later, you’ll be glad you did.
4. How do you think crowdfunding can help the adult sector in general and is it something the industry needs to be looking at more?
Yes, pleasure products have had wild success on crowdfunding platforms. Crowdfunding is awesome because it takes out the middle man, and allows the seller to directly reach potential consumers. The middle man typically has stifled pleasure products because of the stigma that they carried for so long. Crowdfunding is a modern alternative to traditional retail beginnings, and it should be on any sex toy start-up’s radar as a possible avenue into the market.
5. We understand that you have a number of patent applications on file for your own inventions, would you look at crowdfunding these projects as a way to bring them to market?
Absolutely. Crowdfunding has been especially effective for breakthrough products in the adult industry. In order to get a patent, the invention must be novel, i.e. never been done before. So, given this correlation, crowdfunding could certainly be in my future.
6. Is there any one sector of the adult industry that you feel we will see the biggest growth in over the next five years?
Gosh, it’s ALL growing so fast. If I have to pick one though, I would say to keep watch on teledildonics. Over the last two decades, litigation relating to “The Teledildonics Patent” has caused the demise of many start-up companies developing certain types of remote-controlled sex toys. However, the patent’s expiration this summer will likely lead to an influx of innovators entering the field that were previously staying out to avoid potential clashes with the patent. Get ready for some amazing new teledildonics products coming soon to a sex shop near you!
7. What is your favourite fruit?
Strawberries… With whipped cream, of course!
For more information on Maxine and the legal services she can help you with, please visit her web site www.Sextech.Lawyer