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Startup Claims L'Oreal Stole Proprietary Formula

The product made by Santa-Barbara-based Olaplex has been heralded as one of the biggest breakthroughs in hair treatment for years and is touted by mega-stars like Kim Kardashian.

Mnet 124907 Olaplex

A haircare startup in California has filed a suit claiming that the French cosmetics giant, L’Oreal, stole its intellectual property.

The product made by Santa-Barbara-based Olaplex has been heralded as one of the biggest breakthroughs in hair treatment for years and is touted by mega-stars like Kim Kardashian.

Specifically, the buzz has been about how the product allows users to bleach their hair without it becoming dry and brittle — two common side effects of the treatment.

According to a report in Chemical and Engineering News, the product was developed after two scientists at Olaplex discovered bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate, an active ingredient the company says keeps bleaching agents from breaking disulfide bonds in hair.

But the lawsuit pertains to another ingredient: maleic acid. Olaplex says that it patented the formula with that ingredient so that a competitor could not substitute a cheaper ingredient for dimaleate.

The lawsuit alleges that L’Oreal first tried to hire the two scientists who developed the Olaplex product — Bond Multiplier — after its introduction and impressive sales figures in 2014. After failing, L’Oreal then entered acquisition talks with Olaplex. During those negotiations — which ultimately failed — Olaplex alleges that L’Oreal gained its proprietary information.

L’Oreal now has three products on the market aimed at minimizing damaging side effects of bleaching and coloring hair.

L’Oreal recently defended itself saying, “We strongly oppose the merit of these claims and the validity of the patent, and L’Oreal will defend this position vigorously.”

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