Korea's supremacy in cushion compact at stake.
Concerns have grown over Korea's status as a leader in the global cushion compact market, since the Supreme Court recently nullified AmorePacific's patent on the special sponge inside its cushion compact. Cushion compact is a makeup product combining a compact with a special sponge soaked with base makeup, such as sunblock or foundation.
After AmorePacific developed the world's first cushion compact named IOPE Air Cushion in 2008, it has been regarded as a symbol of K-beauty. AmorePacific has sold more than 100 million cushion compacts worldwide.
However, the Supreme Court dismissed AmorePacific's request to recognize the conglomerate's patent on the special sponge inside its cushion compact, May 31, according to industry officials, Tuesday. The ruling came after AmorePacific's first lawsuit against Cosmax in May 2016 over the original design manufacturer's alleged infringement of the cosmetics giant's patent.
In October 2015, Cosmax and five local cosmetics firms ? Nature Republic, Tony Moly, Able Camp;C, Too Cool For School and Famp;Co ? urged the Intellectual Property Trial and Appeal Board to nullify AmorePacific's patent. A lower court ruled in favor of AmorePacific in October 2016, but the appellate court sided with Cosmax in February, citing AmorePacific's cushion compact lacks 'creativity.
' Cosmax is reportedly considering filing lawsuits against AmorePacific in other countries, although the medium-sized company vowed to make efforts for the win-win growth of Korean cosmetics makers. On its technologies for cushion compacts, AmorePacific holds 225 overseas patents and 149 domestic patents.
'If courts in other countries rule in favor of Cosmax, cosmetics makers in China and Southeast Asia will threaten the credibility of K-beauty with poor-quality imitations produced at lower costs,' a cosmetics industry official said. A growing number of consumers have complained about poor-quality imitations, because some of their sponges are easily worn out and could not soak up base makeup.
Consumers complained the poorer quality caused makeup to fade after a few hours. Given that Cosmax has manufactured cushion compacts for Lancome, Yves Saint Laurent and L'Oreal, global brands, which have already imitated AmorePacific's products, will also be able to produce their cushion compacts without paying royalties, threatening Korea's supremacy in the cushion compact market.
Lancome, Yves Saint Laurent and L'Oreal have used different sponges in their cushion compacts. AmorePacific has received royalties from LVMH, Dior, Kolmar Korea and Cosmecca Korea on their use of AmorePacific's special sponge, so the cosmetics makers may cancel their contracts with AmorePacific and urge the conglomerate to return their royalties.