January 14, 2019
L’Oréal, a multinational beauty products conglomerate and owner of the Skinceuticals brand, has sued an indie competitor, Drunk Elephant, for patent infringement. L’Oréal alleges that Drunk Elephant infringed on its patented formulation of CE Ferulic, a skincare product that is designed to even out skin tone and prevent sun damage and wrinkles, by producing its own version of the product called C-Firma. Drunk Elephant sells this product at less than half the price of L’ Oréal’s CE Ferulic serum.
In the beauty industry, it is common for customers to shop for “dupes”, or more affordable versions of the most expensive beauty products. Drunk Elephant has recently had great success with its products, including C-Firma, and has expanded to Europe and plans to expand to Asia. However, this lawsuit threatens one of its most popular products, as well as the “dupe” industry in general.
It is alleged that Drunk Elephant used the formulation published in the L’Oréal patent to come up with its own product. A L’Oréal USA spokesperson stated that “[w]e believe that the scientific inventions which make our products so innovative are a strategic and competitive advantage and we are committed to protecting our valuable intellectual property.”
With the global beauty product industry being so lucrative, this case will be one to watch as it could have significant impacts on copycat beauty product creators.
Authors: Sarah Stothart and Abid Khalid