Beauty of creativity, intellectual property


Intellectual rights protection concept. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art. The protection of beauty is Intellectual Property, said Ralph Waldo Emerson. There is a vast array of cosmetic items available, and people are not hesitant to spend money on them.

According to a Daily Nation story of October 26, 2021, the beauty sector is a multi-billion shilling enterprise in Kenya, and Dubois Street in Nairobi is considered the cosmetic heart of East Africa.

Conversely, the abundance of copycat items dominating the market is one of the biggest challenges to beauty products.

These forgeries infringe on property rights and may endanger the consumer's health and safety. In this regard, pro-active protection procedures are required for efficient commercialisation.

In the cosmetics industry, research, development and innovation are crucial. And the processes are influenced by a number of elements, the most important being the establishment of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) systems; patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, and industrial designs are required for the exploitation.


Patents are the pinnacle of these rights; they are a State-granted license of exclusive rights to the holder of an invention for a certain length of time. Innovation in the field of cosmetics might be a product, a process, a design, or a technology solution. The execution of a patent necessitates three tools: administration and patent protection use of data, patent information, and use of proprietary legislation, such as licensing, valuation, and use.

However, cosmetic formulations and procedures may only be eligible for patent protection if they meet stringent legislative standards. Thus, due to the time and money involved in research and development, it is highly suggested to pursue patent protection.

Trade secret

Cosmetics manufacturers, on the other hand, risk disclosing their exclusive formulations and manufacturing techniques to their competitors by filing a patent application. Additionally, patents can take a long time to secure and are costly to enforce in court. Consequently, the use of trade secrets to protect certain compositions and techniques is an alternative to patents.

Trade secrets are proprietary rights on confidential information which may be sold or licensed and can be kept indefinitely. Contrariwise, apart from the apparent concerns of preserving confidentiality, the downside of retaining trade secrets is that there is no guaranteed time of exclusive usage.


Trademarks are, without a doubt, crucial for cosmetic industrialists. These are symbols that may be used to differentiate one company's goods or services from those of another. They not only help companies stand out from their competitors but also serve as a symbol of their goodwill and loyalty among customers, which takes time and effort to build. Companies must take steps to safeguard and enforce their intellectual property rights.


Vlada Haggerty, a celebrated make-up artist and photographer, shared her signature make-up on Instagram in 2015: a pair of molten gold lips spilling colour, mouth open and teeth slightly exposed. It is one of the most imitated editorial make-up photographs. A year later Snapchat made news when it released a fresh set of face-altering filters inspired by the work of freelance make-up artists, which were taken directly from the make-up artists' feeds.

This begs the question: do make-up artists fall under the same intellectual property protection as other creators? Perhaps it's hard to develop intellectual property for something so intimately connected to the body – the canvas on which make-up professionals work.

Certain jurisdictions have regarded some make-up as protectable, while others have dismissed it as a simple expression for a variety of reasons, including its transient character, lack of originality, and dependency on another work.

While most people aren't thinking about intellectual property when they go for their favourite blush or bronzer, proprietary laws ensure our cosmetics are safe and effective. Our most creative brains are cultivated to create solutions that make life safer, easier, and more enjoyable.

Mutua K Mutuku, data compliance officer and intellectual property law expert