Kao given green light to file lawsuit over alleged hair colour patent infringement

By Andrew McDougall

- Last updated on GMT

Japan-based Kao Corporation has had its voice heard by the Tokyo District Court and has had a preliminary injunction order issued against the manufacture and sale of foaming hair colour products by hair care firm Hoyu.

Kao filed an infringement lawsuit seeking a preliminary injunction back in July last year regarding Hoyu’s foam type hair colour product Bigen Hair ColorDX Creamy Foam, which Kao alleges infringes its Patent No. 4762362.

“Kao values its intellectual property, including patents, as an extremely important company resource and takes a firm attitude against infringement of its intellectual property rights while at the same time respecting the intellectual property rights of others,”​ said a company statement.

Given the go ahead

Upon issuance of the order, Kao says it will promptly file a lawsuit against Hoyu regarding the 12 hair care items in question, with the Tokyo District Court claiming compensation for damages suffered from patent infringement.

The patent in question relates to Kao's proprietary technology of ‘a two agent foam type hair dye in a non-aerosol vessel,’ which assumes a part of the important intellectual property that sustains the Kao Group's beauty care business.

Kao’s Beauty Research Centre has been studying hair colouring technology for application and dyeing performance, since it developed its first ever foam-type hair colouring technology using a squeeze foamer; a container that mixes air and liquid to produce foam when dispensed.

Last year the centre upgraded its original foam-structure controlling technology for its hair dyeing agent by utilising a specific surfactant and gels.

Not for the first time

It is not the first time the Tokyo-headquartered company has been embroiled in a dispute over this particular patent.

In 2011 Kao sued Dusseldorf-headquartered Henkel over the sale of its foaming hair care products in Germany and Japan, insisting Henkel was infringing its intellectual property rights.

The lawsuit filed against the German company and its Japanese subsidiary Schwarzkopf & Henkel K.K, requested that Henkel cease sales of its foam type hair colour products in these markets.

Kao developed the technology in 2002 and commercially launched the hair colour products for black hair in July 2007 and for grey hair in October 2008, which the company claims established a ‘foam type’ category in the hair dye market in Japan.

The company has been selling foam type hair colour products for home use using this technology beginning in July 2009 in Hong Kong, and thereafter in Singapore, Malaysia, the United Kingdom the Netherlands, the United States, Thailand and Taiwan.

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