Indie hair disrupter Olaplex has won a judgment against L’Oréal USA after a years-long legal battle.
A jury ruled in Olaplex’s favor in all four claims — two patent claims, plus trade secret theft and breach of confidentiality — in a Delaware court on Monday, according to Olaplex lawyer Joe Paunovich of Quinn Emanuel.
A spokesman for L’Oréal said the company was “disappointed” by the results of the trial and plans to appeal the verdict.
Olaplex was granted awards upward of $20 million on each of the four claims, but because of timing overlaps, Olaplex will get at least $37.4 million, Paunovich said. He said Olaplex plans to ask the court to triple that number — if the court agrees, L’Oréal could wind up paying Olaplex more than $112 million, plus fees.
Olaplex is best known for its Bond Multiplier product, which repairs broken hair bonds that can be caused during chemical treatments, like bleaching. In court papers, Olaplex said it entered into M&A talks with L’Oréal several years ago, and during that process, L’Oréal had access to proprietary information about Olaplex’s product formulations. Then, a deal never materialized.
The company alleged in the suit that products from Matrix, Redken and L’Oréal Professionnel infringed on an Olaplex patent. Earlier this year, a judge issued a preliminary injunction against L’Oréal USA that could have barred the business from making or selling Matrix Bond Ultim8 Step 1 Amplifier, Redken pH-Bonder Bond Protecting Additive and L’Oréal Professionnel Smartbond Step 1 Additive.
The two have also been through legal proceedings in the U.K., where Olaplex won a lawsuit in 2018 after alleging L’Oréal’s Smartbond products infringed on an Olaplex patent. L’Oréal appealed that ruling.
Olaplex has since toyed with the idea of selling the business and was said to have hired Financo to field deal options earlier this year.
A spokesman for L’Oréal issued a statement: “We are disappointed in and strongly disagree with today’s jury verdict in the Delaware Federal Court, which applies only to the U.S. market. We continue to believe that Olaplex’s accusations against us are unfounded, therefore [it] had no basis for a patent infringement claim against us nor did we misuse sensitive business information. We will appeal this verdict and expect to prevail on all counts. In addition to our appeal on the jury verdict, we have ongoing invalidation proceedings before the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the Federal Court of Appeals. We expect these future rulings to invalidate both patents at-issue in this case.”
The spokesman went on in the e-mail statement to say L’Oréal’s research teams developed its hair bonding technology.
“L’Oréal’s business is guided by an unwavering code of ethics, which respects and invites fair competition, as we believe it drives everyone in the industry to develop better products and services to give our customers the choice they desire and deserve. We will never stop innovating and investing in the most cutting-edge research to deliver the highest-performing hair-care products to our customers.”