June 21, 2018

Leanne Rakers Pens Article on Protecting IP for Cosmetics Start-ups

By Leanne M. Rakers, Principal

St. Louis patent attorney Leanne Rakers explores the growing trend of augmented reality (AR) and innovative mobile app development in the cosmetics industry — as well as the need to protect the IP rights of these new technologies — in a new article published by Global Cosmetics Industry Magazine.

Technologies like AR makeup and virtual try-ons are making big moves into the cosmetics industry, with a slew of large companies partnering with or full-out buying start-ups who are more conversant in AR, artificial intelligence (AI) and other trendy technologies.

As Rakers points out, though, in any fast moving, high tech business environment, it is important to understand the underlying intellectual property and its value before any company is bought or sold.

ModiFace’s acquisition by L’Oréal early this year offers a prime example. ModiFace made its name by creating smartphone apps that allow users to scan their face and apply makeup digitally. They found success as one of the first developers of AR technology that could be used in a cosmetics setting. They have since proliferated their technology throughout the cosmetics space, from MAC mirrors to the Sephora app and even into Pinterest.

Before their technology was seemingly everywhere, though, ModiFace was smart enough to file for patent protection. They currently hold seven U.S. patents, which likely served as an enticing IP portfolio for L’Oréal and, equally likely, as a bargaining chip for ModiFace when the two companies were negotiating a sales price.

For other start-up companies looking to develop technology, Rakers offers the following checklist to help make their IP more appealing to larger companies:

  • Were utility patent applications filed for potentially commercial AR inventions before any public disclosures were made of new products?
  • Were design patent applications filed for graphical user interfaces before any public disclosures were made of new technologies, digital products or apps?
  • Were trademark applications filed for potential AR products?
  • Were service mark applications filed for beauty consultation services through AR apps?
  • Are potential trade secrets being properly managed and secured?
  • Are IP and confiden­tiality clauses included in your employee and collaboration agreements?

Read full article.