Organic products, the latest consumer trend, has resulted in an increasing number of patent applications in the cosmetics sector. Have you or your business created a cosmetic that strengthens hair or cures eczema? You have given the product to all your friends – it’s tried and tested, and now ready to take to the world. Below, we set out how you go about launching your product, and protecting your brand from competitors and copycats.

Step 1: What IP Protection is Available to Me?

The first question is whether you can patent your cosmetic product. You cannot patent a product in its natural state. However, you can patent the use or formula of the natural or organic cosmetic. Typically, patenting involves releasing your secret formula into the public domain and there is an obvious risk that copycats can use this as a base to substitute ingredients and achieve a similar result.

Further, depending on your budget, patenting is not always necessarily an option. Unless you are a large multinational like L’Oreal, who in 1998 was able to patent an extract of the genus Chrysanthemum for the use of improving pigmentation as a tanning agent, you may need to explore other options.

If you have created a miracle cream, it may be more beneficial to register a trademark for your name and logo.  The asset you want to protect in this instance is the brand and reputation you have built up over time. Trademark registration will provide you with proprietary rights to use the name or logo of your product to distinguish your cosmetic.

A trade mark will offer some protection to your natural and organic cosmetics and enable you to enforce your rights against a competitor using your name, and also creates a valuable IP asset that you can sell, licence or assign. 

Step 2: Manufacturing and Distribution

Once you have decided how you will protect your cosmetics, you may now turn your attention to product manufacturing and distribution. It is important when you negotiate a manufacturing and distribution agreement that you consider licensing your IP. You may even choose to have your product exclusively manufactured or distributed by licensing the rights accordingly. This allows you to exercise control over those who manufacture or commercialise your IP, as well as the distribution areas while enjoying royalties.

Step 3: Selling

Once you have created a product, marketing plan and registered the trade mark and logo of your business, you are ready to sell sell sell! But where do you begin? If you decide to sell your products online, you will need to consider sales terms and conditions to govern the relationship between you and your customers. Alternatively, you may like to have terms and conditions to govern the relationship between you and retailers who sell your product. It is in your best interest as a seller and creator to have comprehensive terms and conditions to prevent liability and control your IP.

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Whether you decide to patent your natural or organic cosmetics, it is important to focus on protecting your IP at all stages of creating and marketing your product. If you have any questions and want to talk about monetising your IP, get in touch with our IP lawyers on 1300 544 755. 

Sophie Glover

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