L’Oreal Understands Neither Women Nor Patents

I don’t wear much make up on a account of lazy, and the fact that, while I live in Texas now, my formative years were spent in Connecticut where girls are not taught from the age of six to slather foundation and eye shadow and mascara all over themselves before leaving the front door to retrieve the paper.  It just never became a habit for me, is what I’m saying.  But what I do do, on occasion, is color my hair at home and it’s always done using L’Oreal products because who doesn’t want to look like Heather Locklear?  I mean, if she’s worth it, certainly I am?

IP Troll Tracker

That said, I may have to abandon that ship and set sail for Camp Clairol because of the patent abomination I just read about.  According to a suit filed in New Jersey, L’Oreal decided that they’d require their IP attorneys to file a certain number of patents each year, not to promote the progress of science and useful arts, but so that customers would be persuaded to buy their products because of a “patent pending” stamp on them:

Steven Trzaska said in a complaint filed April 16 in Newark, New Jersey, that L’Oreal ordered him to apply for at least 40 patents last year to help fill a company-wide global quota of 500 applications. The company sought to post on its cosmetics packaging that the contents were “patent pending,” thus increasing their allure to consumers, according to the lawsuit.

L’Oreal?  Let me explain something to you…unless you’re a member of ChIPs or Lori Greiner, you don’t even know what a patent is, never mind what “pending” means, and how it applies to the tackle box of products you store under your bathroom sink.  Rather, you care that the boxed color will hide your grays, and that the skin products will magically erase all those summers you spent laying out on your friend Tiffany’s drive way, listening to Richard Marx and hoping one of the Carpenter boys would call so you could hang out and show off your incredible tan.  In addition to making a mockery of the patent system, you don’t even understand women.  #fail

I don’t have a problem with a cosmetics company wanting to innovate because I’m going to turn 45 pretty soon (May the 4th be with me!) and if I could make any of the crows feet around my eyes less noticeable?  Yes, please.  But taking your research and development and clogging up the USPTO with it is buffoonery.

Even as L’Oreal was pursuing quantity in patents, Trzaska claims the company had an internal initiative to improve the quality of its applications. A review by an outside organization had found “the vast majority of its inventions were of low or poor quality,” Trzaska said in the suit.

After the external review, researchers were submitting fewer pitches for potential applications, and more were getting rejected, Trzaska says. As a result, there were “urgent messages from top management” that the “global patent quotas were in danger of not being met.”

It sounds like L’Oreal IP attorneys took the external reviews to heart, yet inexplicably, the company retained the quota.  That seems…silly.  As does this:

The lawsuit claims he was fired “for his refusal to draft and file patent applications for proposed inventions which were not patentable” and for refusal to let his team members file such applications.

What?  He was fired because he refused to try and patent inventions that were not patentable. I really do hope that sentence is not part of any official legal response to Mr. Trzaska’s lawsuit because if so, someone needs to get their money back on that law degree.  And lots of someones at L’Oreal need to exam their motives…the real crime is abuse of Patent Law, not “failure to meet a quota”.

I honestly don’t know who should win this case because on the one hand, if your job is to hit a quota of patents and you don’t hit it, then the company should be able to fire you.  But on the other hand, if your company is asking you to do something hugely stupid and other people besides you have told them that and you’re just trying to follow the laws set forth by Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the US Constitution, should you really be able to be fired?  I very, very rarely wish I were an attorney but it would come in handy here because as a layman, I have no clue how this should end.

What I do know, however, is that L’Oreal’s policy highlights what I’ve been saying in pretty much every post.  People who want to do something will find a way to do it, law or no law.  Trolls want to extort money, so no matter how many laws you try and come up with to stop them, they’ll abuse the system again.  Here we have a case of a different kind of patent troll, a company who floods the system with applications hoping something will stick so that they can then try and dupe a bunch of women into buying their product for it’s magically delicious, patent-pending concoctions that will allow them to restore their youth.

Women, you know what makes you look like you’re 20?  Being 20.

L’Oreal?  You should be ashamed of yourselves.  I’m glad it’s getting harder for you to get patents and I hope you lose the lawsuit.




{Heather Locklear image found here, because no way am I swiping a shot from a L’Oreal ad.  Have you even heard of how mean their lawyers can be?}

3 thoughts on “L’Oreal Understands Neither Women Nor Patents

  1. Pingback: L’Oreal “Patent Pending” Influence: Survey Says? | IP Troll Tracker

  2. Pingback: Patents as a Marketing Strategy: USPTO Now Part of the Advertising Industry | Techrights

  3. Pingback: More Preposterous Patent Pending Poppycock | IP Troll Tracker

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