Legal Battle over Non-Latex Condom Material

There’s some family bickering going on in the world-wide condom collective. Ansell, the makers of LifeStyles brand condoms, is currently in the process of suing Reckitt-Benckiser, makers of Durex condoms, over the manufacturing of polyisoprene condoms.

If you use polyisoprene condoms, chances are, you fall into either camp: the Durex Real Feel, or the LifeStyles SKYN.  The Real Feel is known for its smaller, more snugger fit size, while the SKYN is known for being one of the first non-latex condom lines to come with a wide variety of choices: SKYN Original, SKYN Large, SKYN Extra Lubricated, and SKYN Intense Feel (which is textured).


Ansell filed for Australian Patent No. 2009241426 for polyisoprene condoms with the release of the SKYN Original in Australia way back in 2009, and it was granted back in 2012. The Real Feel wasn’t introduced until October of 2013, meaning that it could potentially be a breach of Ansell’s patent. For much of the world, that isn’t going to be an issue. But for Australian customers, it may limit their choice for non-latex condoms.

Depending on where you live, you may favor one brand more than the other. But the fact is, Durex is a more recognizable name around the world than LifeStyles, which means they are more likely to get the sales on polyisoprene condoms. Durex (and Reckitt-Benckiser) is based out of Europe, while LifeStyles (and Ansell) are based in Australia. Not only is this a breach on LifeStyles’ home turf, but it’s also a breach of the filed patent.


Ansell is seeking some pretty serious recompense, including:

  • The profit Durex gained from previous sales in Australia to be repaid to Ansell,
  • The cost of the court case to be repaid to Ansell,
  • and finally, all Durex Real Feel stocks in Australia to be destroyed.

The Condom Depot Learning Center is with you on those first two, Ansell, but it’d be nice if we could find a better end for those condoms. A donation to Australian HIV/AIDs and health clinics would be a great way to stay environmentally conscious and support your local community. Due to limited donations, very few health clinics around the world are able to carry non-latex condoms, which could truly mean life or death for people with an allergy.


Polyisoprene is considered a non-latex material, but it is very similar to latex. The only difference is that polyisoprene is missing the proteins that could cause an allergic reaction.

This makes polyisoprene one of the most popular non-latex condoms on the market because of their similarity to latex. They aren’t porous, like lambskin condoms, they are stretchier than polyurethane condoms, and they aren’t internal condoms, like the nitrile FC2. They also cost close to the same as latex condoms, while other specialty condoms tend to be more expensive.

If this case goes through, there’s no telling if it could have an effect on online sales from abroad for private, non-reselling Australian customers. It wouldn’t be illegal for us here at Condom Depot in the United States to send Real Feels to customers down under, but they could still be seized by Australian customs. That’s always up to their discretion, and we don’t have any information or call one way or the other on that.

[Source: PRNewswire]

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