How much is the copyright to a sex toy worth to one jury, about $1,666 per inch of added length. A divorced couple’s long festering sex toy copyright dispute ended when a jury found infringement but only to the tune of $5,000.
TSX Toys, Inc. is a maker of adult novelties and at issue in this case was an extension and girth expanding product that increases the size of a man’s manhood. The expander fits over a certain part of a man’s anatony and then strap’s on to an even more sensitive part of a man’s anatomy. At the base of the strap is TSX’s “signature square-like tab” that customers “readily associate it with” TSX’s products. In 2000, TSX was granted a copyright registration entitled “Walking Tall” for the device.
TSX is operated by Tia Loya and she accused her ex-husband, James Sicilia, of being the ring leader of this infringement. Plaintiff claims that Sicilia took the copyrighted toy and instructed his co-defendants to remove the copyright notice, logos, and numbers to build a mold to create copycat sex toys. TSX sued for copyright and trademark infringement. Sicilia filed counterclaims alleging that TSX’s products were the real infringements and were made from molds designed by Sicilia, and were identical to products he had been selling before Loya copyrighted her designs. In essence, defendant claims they he designed the toy while the couple was married and she secured the copyright first but stole the design from him.
This case was filed in November 2014 and went to a jury trial last week. Seems like such a simple matter could have been resolved but as the defense attorney on the case called it, this case seems like an expensive “grudge match”. The jury heard testimony from both sides about who is the actual creator of the sex toy and the naughty infringement for three days. In the end, the jury determined that Sicilia was not infringing “Walking Tall” but that Sicilia was, in fact, the true creator of the mold and therefore plaintiff, TSX, was the actual copyright infringer. However, the court only awarded damages to Sicilia of $5,000.
The attorneys’ fees for both sides are likely in the hundreds of thousands of dollars over this sex toy battle. As the victor, Sicilia may now petition the court to award his attorneys’ fees which decision is left to the Court’s discretion. Sicilia hopes the judge is “up” to awarding him more than just the $5,000 he got from the jury.
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