Even legal disputes are now the fodder of the digital age.
The founder of skin-care brand Repêchage, Lydia Sarfati, has taken to YouTube to publicly take issue with a product sold by South Korean beauty company Glow Recipe.
In the video, Sarfati said: “It has come to our attention that Yoon Dermaline Aqua Peeler by Glow Recipe is [being presented as an innovation from South Korea. This cotton swab exfoliator product] is actually a patented American innovation I launched in 1996 for Repêchage. It is not a [South] Korean innovation or new to the industry. In fact, since Repêchage launched this product over two million units have been sold worldwide, including in [South] Korea.”
The YouTube clip was e-mailed to journalists on Wednesday along with a statement highlighting Repêchage as an American company that will start sourcing two of its main sea-plant ingredients from farmers in Maine. The product in question — the Rapidex Marine Exfoliator — has been sold in South Korea since 2014, according to Repêchage.
Glow Recipe specializes in distributing and selling South Korean beauty in the U.S., but does not manufacture any products. The business was founded by former L’Oréal employees Christine Chang and Sarah Lee, who were featured on an episode of ABC’s “Shark Tank” in 2015.
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In response to Sarfati’s YouTube comments, Glow Recipe issued a statement, noting that their lawyer had tried to communicate with Repêchage previously. “Glow Recipe is an e-tailer dedicated to vetting the best-in-class beauty brands and innovations from [South] Korea. We have a stringent curation process to ensure each brand is true to their claims. We take allegations of trademark violation very seriously and are quick to respond to inquiries in order to address potential misunderstandings with fact-based substantiation. Should a brand have an issue against a brand that we carry, we believe a dialogue between the two brands should take place. When Repêchage initially contacted us, we immediately requested licensing and patent information in order to address and confirm facts before taking any action; unfortunately these documents were never provided. We’re therefore incredibly disappointed that Repêchage issued a statement with allegations without a professional conversation or supporting documents to properly investigate this issue.”
Glow Recipe then continued in a subsequent statement, “We have held discussions with our vendor partner and strongly believe that Repêchage’s allegations are entirely without merit. Additionally, we are disappointed and, quite frankly, perplexed by the unprofessional, vitriolic, and fundamentally baseless attacks launched by Repêchage against Glow Recipe and our partners via social media, particularly given the complete lack of responsiveness regarding our repeated requests [beginning in March 2016] for documentation around their purported intellectual property claims. Finally, we find Repêchage’s actions to be blatantly opportunistic, given the recent publicity surrounding this product as a result of Glow Recipe’s ongoing efforts — an example being that since our recent appearance on QVC, Repêchage has started adding the hashtag #koreanbeauty to selected products despite having never previously published or mentioned affiliations with Korean partners.
“In addition to actively addressing this ongoing IP issue, we are also exploring legal recourse against Repêchage and its officers around defamation and libel. Glow Recipe is committed to transparency and good business practices, and we will continue to provide updates throughout this process,” the Glow Recipe concluded.
In a previous interview on Dec. 29, 2016, Sarfati said Repêchage also planned to file a suit in the new year.