In a U.S. District Court lawsuit filed last week in Houston, the marketer of the automated makeup brush BlendSmart argues Michael Todd Beauty infringes upon its copyrights and trademarks by selling and advertising the sonic makeup brush Sonicblend. The legal action comes as the brushes are heating up on home-television networks and at retailers.
“We have invested heavily in innovation, design and brand development, and will vigorously defend our intellectual property worldwide,” said Lori Machiorlette, president of Worth Beauty. Comparing BlendSmart to Sonicblend, Worth Beauty’s complaint elaborates, “Customers, potential customers and others were confused because the brushes were strikingly similar, if not virtually identical.”
The lawsuit asserts Michael Todd Beauty copied the dimension, shape and size of Worth Beauty’s BlendSmart brush head as well as logo placement on the device, a graphic on the box, product videos and the promotional phrase, “A revolution in makeup application.” Worth Beauty is pursuing $150,000 in statutory damages.
Michael Todd Beauty declared Worth Beauty’s lawsuit has no merit. “Michael Todd Beauty takes great care to respect the valid intellectual property rights of others,” said Michael Friend, senior vice president of sales at the brand. He suggested Worth Beauty is looking to push out a rival. “Plaintiff [Worth Beauty] seeks to respond to this new competition with a lawsuit rather than simply compete and let the marketplace decide which product is the better offering,” said Friend. The brand noted it applied for a patent on its makeup brush head in 2014.
Michael Todd Beauty plans to counter-sue Worth Beauty. The brand contends Worth Beauty is trying to pass off its BlendSmart technology as sonic. Worth Beauty promotes BlendSmart as the first motorized makeup brush containing an interchangeable brush head spinning at 190 revolutions per minutes, while Michael Todd touts Sonicblend as featuring a rechargeable sonic brush handle and antimicrobial brush head that applies makeup at up to 400 micro-movements per second.
“Michael Todd believes that plaintiff has on multiple occasions made false claims implying its product is sonic when it is not,” said Friend.
BlendSmart launched on QVC in April 2015 under the umbrella of the brand Doll 10, and the home-shopping network held a six-month exclusive on the brush. “The product was very well received by customers and the beauty industry,” the lawsuit reads. Worth Beauty reports more than 90,000 units of Blendsmart have sold since the brush hit QVC and, in March, it broadened the brush’s distribution to sephora.com, where it is priced at $69 and isn’t associated with Doll 10. Michael Todd introduced Sonicblend in July 2016, and the brush is sold at HSN, Bed Bath & Beyond, Amazon and the brand’s web site. On the web site and at Bed Bath & Beyond, it’s listed for $99.
Worth Beauty’s lawsuit follows an agreement between Michael Todd Beauty and Pacific Bioscience Laboratories, better known as Clarisonic, to settle a lawsuit over cleansing brushes brought by the Clarisonic maker in 2015. According to Michael Todd Beauty, the terms of the settlement provide that the brand make no admissions regarding Pacific Bioscience Laboratories’ accusations. Michael Todd Beauty is continuing to sell its Soniclear antimicrobial sonic skin cleansing system.