L’Oreal Sues Coppertone and Neutrogena for Patent Infringement

By Joseph Mandour on February 1, 2012

tanningbed-183x164 Orange County – The L’Oreal Group, one of the world’s largest cosmetic and beauty companies, is suing the owners of Coppertone and Neutrogena for alleged patent infringement. The complaint, filed in a Wilmington, Delaware federal court, claims that the two defendants used L’Oreal’s patented ingredients in their Coppertone, Neutrogena, Aveeno, and RoC brands of sunscreen.

The “acts of infringement have caused and will continue to cause damage to L’Oreal,” the Paris-based company said in the complaint. Patent Attorneys for L’Oreal state that the company has patented mixtures of ingredients, known as the ‘150 and ‘354 patents, used to help stabilize its sunscreens with respect to UV radiation by adding a diphenylacrylate compound to its composition. Those particular compound mixtures appears in so-called avobenzone sunscreens and use the ingredient octocrylene, according to court documents.

L’Oreals patent infringement lawsuit is based on evidence that was presented in a prior lawsuit where Schering-Plough Healthcare Products, Inc., which merged with Coppertone-owner Merck, accused Neutrogena, owned by Johnson and Johnson, of infringing on compositions containing the ingredients avobenzone and octocrylene. Thus, it became clear that those companies were aware of the L’Oreal patents that are the subject of this lawsuit and that they were using the compositions described in those patents.

L’Oreal is seeking a ruling from a jury trial that its patents have been infringed by Coppertone and Neutrogena and an injunction against the defendants continued infringement of the patents. The French-based company is also seeking unspecified monetary damages, including costs and attorneys fees.

In 2011, L’Oreal earned 2.51 billion euros on revenue of 20.3 billion euros. The company’s stock rose 32 cents to 81.44 euros Monday in trading on the Paris stock exchange. L’Oreal was founded in 1909 by a young French chemist and today focuses its concentration on hair color, skin care, sun protection, make-up, perfume, and hair care products. Active in both the dermatological and pharmaceutical fields, L’Oreal is the top nanotechnology patent holder in the United States.

Representatives for the Coppertone and Neutrogena’s owners, Merck and Johnson and Johnson were not available for immediate comment on the lawsuit.

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