The small company has seen Estee Lauder launch a series of lawsuits – for the time being all lost – against her.
The American group considers the mark of the young start-up, La Clinique Digitale, too close to Clinique.
For the founder of the young shoot, the hidden issue is the use of data in the cosmetics industry An office within the Station F incubator, seven employees and 500,000 euros in turnover. WB Technologies is a company specialized in connected beauty, founded a little over three years ago by Stanislas Vandier, an ex at L'Oréal.
A tiny Tom Thumb that finds itself facing a giant, the American cosmetics multinational Estee Lauder – $ 13.7 billion in revenue and 40,000 employees – which distributes products that bear its name worldwide, but also, among others, the brand Clinique. It is around this brand, Clinique, that the conflict between the start-up and the multinational was created. “We are developing a digital solution for aggregating, through applications, the data from our various sensors," says Stanislas Vandier.
These measure UV exposure, skin hydration, surface vitamin levels or other parameters. This solution is called La Clinique Digitale. Its goal is to help consumers measure the effects of their beauty products and make better use of them at the right time.
But we do not sell products, “insists the entrepreneur. Estee Lauder still feels that La Clinique Digitale overshadows her own Clinique and is confusing.
Trial on trial.
The troubles of WB Technologies began in July 2015. Estee Lauder tried to challenge the brand, filed in France at the Institute of Intellectual Property (INPI) by WB Technologies. She was dismissed for the first time in January 2016, then a second time at the end of 2016 by the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris.
Estee Lauder has been ordered to pay 20,000 euros in damages. She brought the case before the Court of Cassation. At the same time, Estee Lauder also attacked in the United States, before the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), which has so far proven wrong. It's been two years since the case dragged on. Similar procedures in China and Korea. Still without success. “All the courts give us reason," says Stanislas Vandier. We do not whine, competition exists, we fight. But it's time consuming, it distracts us a bit from our business. " Is the Estee Lauder group so afraid that this small digital player, present in the United States only via Amazon, and just starting to work on the important Korean beauty market, is confusing its brand ?
“In our opinion, the stakes are going well beyond the mark," explains Stanislas Vandier. We, along with other Korean digital players, are turning a corner in the world of beauty.
We are interfaces between customers and brands that can collect fantastic amounts of data. These data are profoundly changing the beauty industry, since they reverse the act of purchasing and all R & D: the goal, for the big names in cosmetics, is to meet the needs of the cosmetics industry. care and the specific expectations of clients.
Those who do not take this digital turn still practice the old-fashioned trade. “
Some actors are taking this turn, like L'Oreal. But other brands still offer, as marketing, efficiency tests carried out on very small user panels. In May 2018, the Estee Lauder stock had gone down 7% in one day in New York, after the boss admitted that tests had been poorly done and potentially misled clients.
“Not everyone has yet become aware of the transparency requirements that consumers now have, since the tools to meet them exist," argues Stanislas Vandier.
A digital turning point. Is not it a bit presumptuous to think that such a small actor could represent such a threat? “We are talking about the digital world. Success can go extremely fast, notes the founder of WB Technologies.
In Korea, a society where women use fifteen or so different beauty products in a daily routine, a movement begins with digital technology to use less, but better. In fact, we are now working with major French and international cosmetics brands to help them use the user data and increase their efficiency. Estee Lauder is not afraid of us as a start-up, but it keeps the trials going, so that our innovations and those that our partners could launch will disturb them as little as possible.
" All the more pity, according to Stanislas Verdier, who says he admires the founder of the group, who died in 2004. Estee Lauder had “a very open vision of business and competition". . An inspired businesswoman, she often said, “Know how to touch your customers and you've come half way". Applied to a world of beauty that now comes as sensors in the skin as in beauty creams, it is ironic. Conctacted in Paris, Estee Lauder was not able to answer our requests.