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Liqwd, Inc. v. L'Oreal USA, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

October 17, 2019, Decided; October 17, 2019, Sealed Opinion Issued; October 30, 20191, Public Opinion Issued

2018-2152

Opinion

 [*1134]  Reyna, Circuit Judge.

Liqwd, Inc., appeals from a decision by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board that certain claims in its patent on formulations and methods of keratin treatment are unpatentable as obvious. In its obviousness analysis, based on evidence presented by Liqwd, the Board found that L'Oreal USA, Inc., used Liqwd's confidential information  [*1135]  and copied Liqwd's patented method. But the Board disregarded its factual finding when concluding that the copying involved was legally irrelevant. Because that conclusion was error, we vacate the Board's obviousness determination and remand. We agree with the other [**2]  appealed aspects of the Board's final written decision.

Background

Liqwd, Inc. owns U.S. Patent No. 9,498,419 ("the '419 patent"), titled "Keratin Treatment Formulations and Methods." The '419 patent relates to formulations and methods of treating hair, skin, or nails by mixing compounds with a coloring or bleaching formulation to achieve a repairing or strengthening effect. The described formulations contain polyfunctional compounds referred to as "active agents" that may be maleic acid, salts thereof, or other compounds. See '419 patent col. 7 l. 15-col. 11 l. 18, col. 21 l. 12-col. 25 l. 40.

Claim 1 is the only independent claim subject to dispute in this case:

1. A method for bleaching hair comprising:

(a) mixing a formulation comprising an active agent with a bleaching formulation, wherein the active agent has the formula:

or salts thereof;

(b) applying the mixture to the hair; wherein the active agent in the mixture is at a concentration ranging from about 0.1% by weight to about 50% by weight; and

wherein the mixture does not contain a hair coloring agent.

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941 F.3d 1133 *; 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 32457 **

LIQWD, INC., Appellant v. L'OREAL USA, INC., Appellee

Prior History:  [**1] Appeal from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Patent Trial and Appeal Board in No. PGR2017-00012.

Disposition: VACATED AND REMANDED.

CORE TERMS

copying, patent, nonobviousness, infringement, maleic, acid, objective indicia, specific product, competitor, factual findings, present evidence, similarities, bleaching, hair

Patent Law, Jurisdiction & Review, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Substantial Evidence, Nonobviousness, Evidence, Fact & Law Issues, Prima Facie Obviousness, Elements & Tests, Hindsight, Graham Test, Secondary Considerations, Evidence, Relevance, Relevant Evidence