Playboy Patents Sex

CHICAGO, APRIL 1 1996 (Business Wire) - Playboy Enterprises Inc (NYSE:PYA) today announced that it has been awarded US Patent 6,969,696, "Method and Apparatus For The Reproduction of Homo Sapiens". The inventor named in the patent is Hugh M. Hefner.

Analysts who have seen the patent say it covers essentially every known method of human sexual reproduction, including "unsuccessful attempts thereat".

In a prepared statement, Playboy said "We're happy that after an unusually long pendency period, the Patent Office has finally recognized our pioneering role in this field. We are today announcing that we will license our patent on reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms on a per-use basis. To simplify royalty accounting, we will install a small video camera in every bedroom at licensee expense. Licensees need not keep records, as we will automatically send a bill every month. A detailed royalty schedule, including liberal quantity discounts and discounts for Playboy magazine and TV subscribers will be announced at a later date. Playboy Enterprises Incorporated hereby places the public on notice that we will aggressively defend our intellectual property rights."

Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill applauded Playboy's announcement, citing both the need to enforce the nation's intellectual property laws and the need to control "rampant indecent" behavior. "We must not let a radical, un-American and ultra-liberal notion like 'privacy', which appears nowhere in the Constitution, interfere with the rule of law," said one Senator who declined to give his name or that of the young woman with him.

Justice Department officials agreed, arguing that privacy concerns were "groundless'' and ''overblown'' because the videotapes would be stored securely at two separate ''escrow'' sites and would be released to law enforcement only on court order. ''Law-abiding citizens who have nothing to hide will have nothing to fear under this program'' said Attorney General Janet Reno through a spokesman.

Critics charged that the Patent Office erred in granting the patent because of ''prior art''. But Patent Commissioner Bruce Lehman defended his office's action, saying ''As far as we were concerned, the Hefner invention was novel and deserving of a patent. At least none of us had ever heard of this stuff. But our prior art search may have been hampered by incomplete databases even though Jesse Helms has contributed heavily to it over the years. Somebody from Senator Exon's office came by a while back and deleted much of what we did have on this subject. Maybe if Congress could only throw a few more billion dollars our way, we could solve all these problems.''

In related news, US Trade Representative Mickey Kantor was on his way to Beijing to open talks with Chinese government officials over alleged piracy of this new US intellectual property. ''With a population of over one billion the Chinese have obviously been infringing this particular patent quite a bit'', Kantor said, ''and we'd like to press the Chinese government to do something about it.''

Playboy Enterprises stock shot up 1000% or 100 points in very heavy trading on the NYSE before trading was suspended for the day.

© 1995-2002 William Geoffrey Shotts. Last update: Tuesday, March 09, 2004