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Judge Grants Olaplex Preliminary Injunction in L’Oréal USA Lawsuit

Olaplex and L'Oréal have been in legal battles over bond-multiplying products for years.

A Delaware court has granted Olaplex a preliminary injunction against L’Oréal USA after Olaplex alleged that products from Matrix, Redken and L’Oréal Professional infringed on a patent.

The decision, from Judge Joseph Bataillon in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, could bar L’Oréal USA from making or selling Matrix Bond Ultim8 Step 1 Amplifier, Redken pH-Bonder #1 Bond Protecting Additive and L’Oréal Professionel Smartbond Step 1 Additive.

Olaplex is best known for its Bond Multiplier product, which protects hair during chemical treatments including bleaching and repairs broken hair bonds.

According to court papers: “Olaplex points to evidence demonstrating that the accused products constitute an insignificant portion of L’Oréal’s overarching business. In contrast, undisputed evidence on the record establishes that Olaplex’s bond builder products constitute the entirety of its business. For these reasons, the balance of equities and public interest weigh in favor of granting Olaplex’s renewed motion for a preliminary injunction.”

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The injunction has not yet been ordered, and the scope has not yet been determined, sources said. L’Oréal USA lawyers planned Monday to file a letter with the court asking it to limit the scope of any injunction to only the bleaching aspects of all three products, which are labeled for both coloring and bleaching. If that were granted, all three L’Oréal products could still be sold, a source with knowledge of the case said.

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Olaplex filed a suit against L’Oréal in January 2017 claiming the Matrix, Redken and L’Oréal Professional products infringe on a patent it has. The company also alleged misappropriation of trade secrets, unjust enrichment, breach of contract and breach of “implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.”

Bataillon’s April 26 order sites a declaration from Edward Borish, a beauty industry veteran, who said the active agent related to the patent in question, maleic acid, is sufficiently present in the L’Oréal-owned products.

This isn’t the only lawsuit between the two parties. In the U.K., Olaplex won a lawsuit in mid-2018 where it had alleged that L’Oréal’s Smartbond products infringed on an Olaplex patent. L’Oréal appealed that decision, and the court is expected to make another ruling at the end of 2019 or in 2020.

Olaplex’s chief legal officer and chief administrative officer Tiffany Walden issued a statement on Friday’s decision, saying: “Olaplex has waited for more than two years for this decision, and we’re thrilled to see that Judge Batallion agreed with numerous other judges in the United States and United Kingdom in finding that L’Oréal has infringed Olaplex’s patent rights.  We look forward to L’Oréal’s products being removed from the market.”

L’Oréal issued a statement to Friday’s decision, saying: “L’Oréal USA strongly disagrees with the federal court’s interim decision, as the facts of this case remain clearly on our side. The Olaplex patent at this time has been invalidated by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. We remain confident that the courts will recognize this, along with merits of our defense. The judge’s recent decision, which we plan to appeal, is a procedural development in an ongoing, multifaceted lawsuit that will go to trial in July 2019. We do not anticipate this ruling to have an impact on the sale of our products, including the bonding products, as we are taking appropriate steps and will continue defending ourselves against Olaplex’s baseless claims in court and in the marketplace.”