Olaplex’ counterfeiting lawsuit against Walmart is dropped

A lawsuit claiming that Walmart knowingly allowed counterfeits of products made by haircare company Olaplex to be sold via its retail channels has been abandoned.

Santa Barbara, California-based Olaplex filed the lawsuit last year, claiming that Walmart was distributing and selling counterfeit versions of its products online, contravening trademarks held by Liqwd, which licenses them exclusively to the cosmetics company.

Walmart insisted it had not infringed any trademarks in the dispute, and also argued that Olaplex’ suit was without merit on the grounds of the First Sale Doctrine – a legal device that shields the buyer of a genuine trademark-bearing item from infringement should they subsequently choose to resell the item.

The First Sale Doctrine was introduced in the 1970s and makes it possible for example to resell copyrighted products like books and CDs after the first sale has been made by the copyright owner.

Walmart argued that the Olaplex goods at the centre of the lawsuit – which included its popular Hair Perfector No. 3 product – were authentic Olaplex products that the haircare form had released into the marketplace. That meant in turn it could not prohibit their resale by Walmart.

Olaplex had claimed Walmart was selling counterfeit products that bear “confusingly similar and substantially indistinguishable imitations of the Olaplex trademarks.”

It said that Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3 – a strengthening and reparative take-home product – is only sold to consumers “by their hairstylist, online at, or in select high-end retail stores like Sephora and Nordstrom.”

News of the lawsuits dismissal with prejudice – which means it cannot be reopened – was reported by Bloomberg Law.

Olaplex was founded in 2014 and has grown quickly since launch to become one of the largest independent hair care brands in the world. It was acquired last November by private equity company Advent International.

Last year, it claimed a victory in a trade secrets theft lawsuit filed against cosmetics giant L’Oreal, winning $91m in damages in a Wilmington, Delaware federal court, subsequently cut to $50m. L’Oreal is appealing the verdict.

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