Small particles are becoming a big business for the world's personal care products manufacturers, according to an analysis of world patent activity recently published by the IP Solutions business of Thomson Reuters. The report, "Can Nanotech Unlock the Fountain of Youth?," finds that the beauty industry has begun to make an aggressive foray into nanotechnology, using tiny molecular compounds to improve the performance of creams, sunscreens, shampoos and other personal-care products.
The report tracks unique inventions published in patent applications and granted patents from 2003 to 2009, along with trademark data from 2000 through 2009, to identify the companies and areas of nanotechnology innovation showing the sharpest growth in this industry. The findings include:
- Nanotech Growth Accelerates: The volume of innovative patents involving nanotechnology in beauty and personal-care items grew by 103% in the past seven years, more than doubling from 181 patents in 2003 to 367 in 2009.
- Specialty Chemical Companies Stake Claim: While L'Oreal and Amorepacific were early innovators in the development of nanotech-based beauty products, a great deal of new innovation in the field comes from companies that one would not traditionally associate with the beauty industry, including Fujifilm and BASF [Editor's note: although BASF may not be widely known for its role as a beauty ingredient supplier outside of the industry, the company has an active and large portfolio of ingredients]. Of 367 unique inventions filed in 2009, ten were by Fujifilm; nine were by BASF and seven were by Amorepacific.
- "Nano" Trademarks: From 2000 through the end of 2009, a total of 217 personal care brands that incorporate the term "nano" were trademarked in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, European Community and WIPO; the second half of that period (2005 – 2009) had 575% more registered marks than the first half (2000 – 2004).
The data in the report was compiled using the Thomson Reuters Derwent World Patents Index (DWPI) database, for patent research, and SERION, for trademarks, to identify global innovation and brand activity in nanotechnology for personal care products. Patent and trademark activity are being used as a benchmark for innovation. The patent research aggregates granted documents and published applications (examined and unexamined) in 2003 and 2009. Results from both time periods were then compared to determine the overall growth trend over the past seven years.