Patenting natural cosmetics ingredients is big business

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

Patenting natural cosmetics ingredients is big business

Related tags Cosmetics

Lawyers in Australia confirm that, as a type of intellectual property, natural ingredients and formulations make up the single largest cosmetics category being granted the legal protection.

Patent attorneys with the Freehills firm point to coinciding global trends within the beauty and personal care sectors that have converged on the legal side of things.

“The first trend is the expansion of the natural and organic cosmetic products market. The second is an increase in patent activity in the cosmetics sector,”​ writes Carol Burnton and Damian Slizys in their JD Supra article on the phenomenon. 

Legal business

Patenting ingredient technologies and the like is nothing new for any industry.

In fact it’s something that Australian companies do with great frequency: “while cosmetic patenting is not yet as big an industry as medical or biotechnology patenting, there is greater patent activity in the cosmetics sector than in either plant agriculture or herbal medicines and only slightly fewer cosmetic patents than in food technology,” ​noted Burnton and Slizys, referencing a Union for Ethical BioTrade study. 

Intellectual investment

While consumers are enjoying the benefits of natural personal care items, shrewd companies are filing for legal protections that will benefit the bottom line for years to come. 

Burnton and Slizys affirm that natural and organic cosmetics have an expanding consumer base and see this as an opportunity for brands innovating in the space to capitalize on their indispensable intellectual property (IP).

The natural order of things

Companies developing technologies that warrant proprietary rights can file for two types of patents, according to the Freehills attorneys: one, a patent for “the use of the natural or organic cosmetic,” ​and two, a patent for “the formulation of the natural or organic cosmetic.”

Overly nuanced formulation patents can run amok, as a slight variation may be legal for competing brands to manufacture and market.

Though “a properly prepared formulation patent can provide very comprehensive protection for your valuable natural or organic cosmetic,” ​advises Burnton and her colleague.

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