Former Catholic monk sues L’Oréal over anti-ageing patent infringement

By Lucy Tandon Copp 31-Aug-2017

Brother Dennis Wyrzykowski takes beauty giant to court over use of adenosine in anti-ageing products

A former Roman Catholic monk has sued L’Oréal over the use of the anti-ageing skin care ingredient adenosine, which he says he holds the exclusive license to.

Brother Dennis Wyrzykowski of the Teresian Carmelites – a non-profit organisation that was formerly recognised by the Catholic Church until 2008 – launched an anti-ageing facial moisturiser in 2009 called Easamine.

Selling Easamine through his for-profit subsidiary Carmel Labs, Wyrzykowski raised funds for the Teresian Carmelites and its charitable programmes. Carmel Labs was given the exclusive license to use adenosine technology, covered by two patents, for all cosmetic applications in 2008.

The license agreement arose due to an ongoing relationship between the religious order and Dr James Jobson, Jr, the former Chairman of the Department of Physiology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Dr Dobson and his colleague Dr Michael Ethier discovered that topical application of adenosine could be used to enhance the condition of skin.

Easamine is said to have generated significant sales in its first year as a result of the innovative technology and strong press coverage.

Adenosine patent debate

The lawsuit, filed with the United States District Court for the District of Delaware, was brought against L’Oréal by both Carmel Labs and University of Massachusetts Medical School.

The plaintiffs allege that L’Oréal was aware of Dr Dobson’s adenosine technology and patents since at least 2002, with the company referencing the patents in its own issued patents.

They also claim that L’Oréal contacted Dr Dobson to discuss the patents, but did not obtain a license to them.

L’Oréal is accused of undercutting the launch of the expanded Easamine line in 2010 by two weeks to launch its new Youth Code line of anti-ageing products, which use adenosine.

Carmel Labs is said to have suffered as a result, with projected sales not met and a revenue loss.

Teresian Carmelites was forced to sell off certain properties it owned to prevent foreclosure on the monastery

“Teresian Carmelites’ plummeting funds left it unable to pay the monastery’s mortgage, and to lapse payments on obligations it undertook to finance the launch of Easeamine,” the court document stated.

“Teresian Carmelites was forced to sell off certain properties it owned to prevent foreclosure on the monastery, and was unable to maintain health insurance for its members.

“The monastery was unable to use the projected Easeamine profits to fund its charitable works, including efforts to benefit the underprivileged through educational and outreach programs.”

L’Oréal’s response

“While we admire the purpose of the work these two organizations are doing together, we find no merit in these allegations,” L'Oréal said in an email to The Associated Press

“We expressed this point of view in many conversations we had with the Teresian Carmelites and their outside legal advisers over the past two years.”

Brands in question

The plaintiffs claim that L’Oréal has illegally used the ingredient in products from brands including: Biotherm, The Body Shop, Carita, Decléor, Garnier, Giorgio Armani, Helena Rubinstein, IT Cosmetics, Kiehl’s, L’Oréal Paris, La Roche-Posay, Lancôme, Maybelline, Roger&Gallet, Sanoflore, Shu Uemura, Vichy and Yves Saint Laurent. Sign up for your free email newsletter

They are seeking trial by jury and damages.