Federal Circuit overturns L’Oreal’s $66m haircare patent loss


Alex Baldwin

Federal Circuit overturns L’Oreal’s $66m haircare patent loss

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L’Oreal has convinced the Federal Circuit to partially reverse a district court ruling ordering it to pay $66 million for infringing two patents and stealing trade secrets from cosmetics startup Olaplex.

The Federal Circuit found that the trade secrets that the beauty giant was accused to have stolen from Olaplex were “not secret” and called for a retrial for the infringement of one of the patents in a non-precedential decision published yesterday, April 6.

Olaplex’s cross-appeal for non-patent damages was denied due to the Federal Circuit’s reversal of non-patent liability in the proceedings.

L’Oreal’s request to reassign proceedings to a different district court judge was also denied.

Action against L’Oreal was first brought by Liqwd, who had all of its interest transferred to fellow plaintiff Olaplex in January 2020.

In August 2019 a jury at the US District Court for the District of Delaware ruled in favour of Olaplex, finding L’Oreal guilty of infringing two hair treatment patents (US9,498,419 and US9,668,954) and of misappropriation of several trade secrets.

The jury determined that Olaplex was entitled to nearly $100 million in damages. Judge Bataillon then ruled that Olaplex was only entitled to $66.2 million in total.

The judge also granted a permanent injunction preventing L’Oreal from selling the infringing ‘Smartbond’ products.

The majority of claims of the two patents L’Oreal had been accused of infringing were invalidated in earlier proceedings by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), leaving only claims related to methods for reducing ‘breakage’ from a single hair bleaching session.

The PTAB found claims 1–13, 19–23, and 29–30 of the Olaplex patent (US number 9,668,954) to be invalid as obvious.

L’Oreal USA appealed the district court ruling to the Federal Circuit and Olaplex filed a notice of cross-appeal.

In prior Federal Circuit proceedings, both L'Oréal and Olaplex failed to convince the court to overturn the decision related to the patent treatments, upholding the PTAB decision which invalidated key claims of both the patents, but maintaining other claims of the patents were still valid.

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L’Oreal, Olaplex, Federal Circuit, patents