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Nanotechnology Gains Higher Profile in Personal-Care Industry

Makeup Kit (Steven Depolo)A review of patents issued for new health and beauty products since 2003 shows an increasing reliance on nanotechnology to achieve breakthroughs in product design and performance. Between 2003 and 2009, the number of patents for health and beauty items making use of nanotechnology more than doubled, from 181 in 2003 to 367 in 2009.

The study conducted by Thompson Reuters analyzed patent applications and approvals from 2003 and 2009 in its intellectual property databases, seeking out unique inventions that applied nanotechnology.

The research showed a sharp change in the leading players in the industry using this technology. In 2003, cosmetics giant L’Oréal dominated the field with 33 patents. By 2009, however, more diversified companies emerged as the top patent holders, with Fujifilm being awarded 10 patents and BASF close behind with nine. L’Oréal tied for sixth place with three patents in 2009.

Companies awarded patents in 2003 and 2009 most often filed those patents with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), with the percentage of WIPO patents in this field rising from 28 percent in 2003 to 34 percent in 2009. In 2009, patent authorities in the U.S., China, and Korea each attracted 14 percent of the filings for new nanotechnology-based health and beauty inventions. Hair care (shampoo, conditioner) and skin care products (lip balm, lip stick, sunscreen) received the the most patents in both years.

Photo: Steven Depolo/Flickr

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