UK Supreme Court rules for Hogan Lovells client Olaplex against L’Oréal in high-profile patent infringement case

London, 29 June 2020 – This week Hogan Lovells achieved a significant win on liability for its client Olaplex, an innovative Californian start-up, in its long-running patent infringement case against L'Oréal.

The Supreme Court rejected L'Oréal's application for permission to appeal its losses in the Court of Appeal and High Court, effectively ruling in favour of Olaplex on liability and bringing that strand of the long-running patent litigation to a close.

The injunction granted by the High Court against L'Oréal will come into force today, Monday, 29 June. L'Oréal will have to stop dealing in its infringing Smartbond products from today. It has also been ordered to publicise from Monday its loss on its social media channels and in written communications to its UK customers. The UK courts are still to decide how much in damages to award Olaplex for L'Oréal's infringement. 

The rejection of L'Oréal's application to the Supreme Court brings this part of the UK litigation, which began in 2016, to a close for Olaplex.

"We are thrilled that yet another UK court has ruled in favour of Olaplex after nearly three years of litigation and appeals. We look forward to continuing to deliver high-quality science-based products to the hairdressing community," says Tiffany Walden, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Legal Officer of Olaplex Inc. "The team at Hogan Lovells did an amazing job at distilling this case and the technology at issue for both the High Court and Court of Appeals, and we are grateful for the time and energy the team devoted to protecting our intellectual property."

Dominic Hoar, senior associate at Hogan Lovells and member of the Hogan Lovells team acting for Olaplex, said: "We are delighted with the decision by the Supreme Court, which means that Olaplex can finally look forward to some redress for L'Oréal's infringing acts. The decision shows that the UK courts will protect true innovators, no matter the size of the infringer or how strong its willingness to fight."

The full Hogan Lovells team led by Stephen Bennett also included Greig Shuter and Hannah Schofield, associates, instructing Iain Purvis QC of 11 South Square and Katherine Moggridge of 3 New Square.

The case is one strand of a row that has also involved litigation in the United States, including a trade secret claim, in which Olaplex has also won at trial.

Background

With 1.7m followers on Instagram, Hogan Lovells' client Olaplex, based in Santa Barbara, launched its patented Bond Multiplier product in 2014. The brand has been championed by celebrities such as Drew Barrymore, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, and Chrissy Teigen.

The product was an instant hit and created a whole new category of products designed to protect hair during bleach treatments. One of those following Olaplex into the new category was L'Oréal, launching its competing Smartbond product in 2015.

This week's decision of the UK Supreme Court follows a previous High Court decision in June 2018, in which Olaplex was successful, and a Court of Appeal decision in November 2019, which upheld the decision of the High Court. L'Oréal had been refused leave to appeal the Court of Appeal decision, and sought permission directly from the Supreme Court. On Tuesday the Supreme Court ruled that L'Oréal's application "does not raise an arguable point of law of general public importance," refusing L'Oréal permission to appeal.


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