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The Business of Lip Balm – Patent Insights

The Business of Lip  Balm – Patent Insights

For many countries January marks the coldest month of the calendar year. These cold temperatures can be tough on people’s skin; with our skin moisture dropping and leading to cases of dryness and inflammation.

There are a variety of products available to safeguard against the negative effects of cold weather on the skin, with many people seeking to protect their lips from dryness and cracking using lip balms.

Using patent data as our guide, we investigate the current developmental trends in the field of lip balms, and if this can give an insight into its future.

Read on, or download the full article here.

A Brief History of Lip Balm

Humans have been using lip moisturising techniques as far back as 40BC, with Egyptians being noted as using a mixture of beeswax, olive oil and animal fat to provide care to dry or chapped lips.

Homemade remedies have prevailed ever since, with households in the 1800’s even being advised to utilise their earwax to obtain healthy, moisturised lips. Luckily technology has moved forward, and today lip balms are primarily based off of a variety of naturally obtained waxes.

The invention of lip balms as we know them today, in the form of a solid stick, can be accredited to Dr Charles Brown Fleet in the early 1800’s. His product, which was wrapped in tin foil rather than a tube, would go on to be named ChapStick and become one of the most synonymous brands within the industry. This business venture was not an instant success however, and Dr Fleet sold the rights to John Morton in 1912 for $5 due to poor initial sales.

Assessing the Field

For a broad patent analysis, we can utilise the classification “A61Q19/001 Preparations for the care of the lips”.

Fig.1, Earliest Priority Year vs Number of Patent Families for A61Q19/001.

As shown in Fig.1, this appear to be a relatively small technology area, with the classification containing approximately 1500 patent families.

This graph highlights a sharp increase in priority filings within this classification, with numbers rising from roughly 20 in 2014 to almost 200 in 2018, indicating that lip care could be a key growth area for its size. The trajectory of this growth may have been affected by Covid-19 and may take a few years before we see a more stable indication of its development.

Global Reach

Fig.2, Patents by Publication Country.

Fig.2 highlights the most frequent publication countries for this technology.

As shown, China holds a significant stake in this field, with a larger range of patents than any other country, while the US holds the second highest number of patents. These two countries are notably the global leaders in industrial output.

The Business of Lip Balm

The key assignees holding patents within this technology are displayed within Fig.3 below.

Fig.3, Assignees vs Number of Patent Families.

The main player within this field by some margin is L’Oréal; the world’s largest cosmetics company.

Rounding out the top 3 is skin care company Beiersdorf, owner of Nivea, and chemical company BASF. These companies are based in France and Germany; countries which are respectively the world’s first and seventh largest exporters of beauty, cosmetics, and skincare products.

A significant number of patents within this technology were published in China, as noted in Fig.2, and this is reflected with 6 of the top 20 key players being China based companies.

Other notable companies acting in this field include Procter & Gamble and The Estee Lauder Companies Management.

Fig.4, Publication Year vs Assignee

Through Fig.4’s bubble chart we can observe the longevity to which these companies have had an interest in the field of lip protection, and who has been most active in the previous 20 years.

L’Oréal, noted in Fig.3 as the main player, have been a constant presence in this area over this period, with significantly more publications per year to the closest rival. Meanwhile BASF, the second largest player, can be seen to have reduced their attention in recent years, as have cosmetics giants Estee Lauder.

There are a number of companies entering the field within this time frame; notably Mary Kay, Avon and GlaxoSmithKline, all with a consistent but small number of annual publications.

We can also analyse the key concepts utilised within the patents from these core assignees, identifying where these companies stand within the developmental field, as per Fig.5 below.

Fig.5, Assignees vs Patent Concepts.

L’Oréal, the largest cosmetics company, and most active player in this field, have strong holdings in all concept areas asides from Vitamin E usage. This seems to be an area not explored by most key assignees, with Dalian Zhongzhuoxin Technology Service having the highest interest of the eight key companies currently exploring this technology route.

Jojoba oil and Vitamin E could be considered areas of key development going forward, with only half of the key players currently exploring these concepts.

All key assignees appear to utilise beeswax as a wax portion of their lip balms. Other waxes are captured within this data, with carnauba wax the next most frequent and candelilla wax being the least used of the options highlighted within the chart.

Key Development Areas

Finally, we can try identifying the key development areas for this field by analysing the IPC classifications and key concepts associated with the data set of patents.

Fig.6, IPC vs Earliest Priority Year

For most classifications there is minimal variation over the 20-year analysis period, with a common increase occurring in line with the rise in publications from 2016. This may be due to the size of the technology area; and if the field continues to grow, we could expect to see more variation from a wider patent base.

There are a variety of newly utilised classifications over this period. The recent introduction of “A61K8/9789 Magnoliopisda” and “A61K8/9794 Liliopsida”, may reflect a shift in the technology area towards the use of flowering plants, while “A61K8/63 Steroids; Derivatives thereof” may also be of future interest.

As identified from Fig.5, Vitamin E could be considered a potential growth area, something that is reflected by the emerging use of “A61K8/67 Vitamins”, one of three classifications that finds new, consistent use from 2015, in line with the increase in priority filings.

Patents of Interest

Away from the information provided by these charts, we can manually filter the data set in order to identify other potential trends and patents of possible interest.

One key function not highlighted within the charts is UV filter lip balms, which act to protect the skin from solar activity. This technology has been on the market for a while, with over 10% of the data set claiming UV protection or SPF. An example being WO2017074895A1; a lip protectant that comprises “at least one UVA sunscreen and/or at least one UVB sunscreen.”

Mirroring the popularity of milks in general cosmetics, lip balms have seen a similar uptake in incorporating a variety of types of milk into their compositions. There are a range of benefits to utilising milk in skin care; from the exfoliating properties of lactic acid to the array of vitamins they contain, with vitamins being a previously identified key growth area. Maintaining a small but frequent inclusion in the data set from 2003 onwards, compositions claiming the inclusion of a milk now account for roughly 5% of these results. One such example being CN108969462A, which relates to a lip balm containing 30 parts by weight of goat milk.

A recent development in the field is the emergence of cannabis infused lip balms, their rise in popularity coinciding with the US’s relaxation of its marijuana laws. This is truly an emerging technology; the inclusion of cannabis or cannabinoids present in the claims of only 1.5% of this data set, with the earliest priority date being 2013.

US10639260B1 is one such an example, relating to a lip balm composition containing “petroleum jelly, camphor, menthol, phenol, beeswax, and cannabis”, where the cannabis may have a THC concentration between 15 and 30%.


Although a relatively small technology area, it is apparent that this could be considered a growing field, specifically if it continues its pre-Covid trajectory.
There are a number of “major corporations” acting as key players, however asides from L’Oréal there is no other company with a large hold on this market. There is also significant interest from China, and this is replicated in the amount of China based companies highlighted in the key assignee charts.

In terms of the future, it is apparent there has not been significant variation in the field up to this point, however that seems to be changing with the emergence of utilising flowering plants, steroids and vitamin E. As the technology area continues to grow, we could expect to see more variation, with cannabis infused lip balms an example of a recent change in the market that could have greater influence as time progresses.

Article by Daniel Di Francesco, IP Manager at Patent Seekers. He is an expert in undertaking FTO, Patentability and Invalidity searches, covering all types of subject matter with specialism in the chemical field.

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Global Capital Summit Takes Place Online This Week

The Global Capital Summit takes place as an online interactive event this week.Global Capital Summit takes place online March 2022

Joining them for 2 days of interactive workshops is our Head of Business Development for North America Christian Hartmann. He will join the discussion with some of the most influential leaders at the intersection of innovation, capital and entrepreneurship.

Investors are taking risks on entrepreneurs like never before and high growth companies are emerging. Find out what’s driving these massive changes and learn how to get involved. Engage in meaningful conversations to enable new possibilities.


Patent Seekers recently launched an innovative analysis designed to help entrepreneurs and investors make key product, market and investment decisions.

StartPoint© is the latest ground-breaking advancement in market research and competitive intelligence using the power of patent data and market analysis.

StartPoint© is an affordable solution to help guide you through your innovation journey, provide you with a competitive edge and importantly help make your invention more attractive to investment.

Christian and a team of researchers designed StartPoint© with Entrepreneurs and Investors in mind. Please feel free to contact Christian if you would like to learn more.

Christian Hartmann
Christian Hartmann – Head of Business Development

Christian Hartmann is the Head of Business Development for North America. He regularly advises clients on the use of Intellectual Property search and analysis to support their innovation journey.

Further details on the Global Capital Summit can be found here.

The High Steaks of BBQ IP

With July 4th weekend upon us, we at Patent Seekers would like to wish our families, friends and colleagues in the United States a Happy Independence Day by looking at the US patents that have helped make July 4th the undisputed King of BBQ related holidays.  We’ll explore the filing history of these patents, investigate the oldest BBQ patents we can find and take a look at some of the most recent publications to get a glimpse of where BBQ technology is currently. We’ll also take a sweeping look at the patent landscape, seeing where innovation is heaviest. Lastly, we’ll highlight some of the more weird and wonderful innovations in the area. By the end we’ll have shone some light on this niche of the culinary industry, highlighting the American innovations that have culminated in the barbecue’s domination of holidays such as July 4th, as well as its place amongst the top traditions of the summer months.

BBQs: A Patent History

As part of our insight in to the world of patents it only felt right to take a look back to some of the earliest references to BBQ innovation, to those barbecues that took the first foray into the realm of patent protection. Some of the earliest documents include: US1156773A, entitled “Barbecue Furnace”. This patent has an application date from 1915, making it the earliest reference we could find. It appears to relate to “constructing a portable folding stove or furnace for camp or field use made usually of a size to receive a quarter of beef for instance, so that it could be stored in small compass, easily transported, quickly set up”. US1250861A, entitled “Barbecue Stove” has an application date of 1917 and also appears to focus on portability. By contrast we also looked at some of the most recent patents that relate to barbecues. We found US2020178546A with an application date of 10th Dec 2019, entitled “Smoke-producing device for an outdoor grill” and US2020054168A “Pizza oven” with an application date of 13th August 2019, which appears to relate to a device for allowing pizza to be cooked on a barbecue grill.

Figure 1 (below) shows the filing history of barbecue related patents from 1915 to 2019. The filings appear to follow a pattern of almost sudden spiking, followed by a slight dip. There is a clear upward trend of filings from 1915 through to a tremendous peak in 2005, however, filings appear to have gradually decreased thereafter. Other noticeable peaks include the years 1989 & 2000.

Filing history of barbecue related patents from 1915 to 2019
Figure 1. Earliest Priority Year vs Number of Patent Families* (US only) *Produced using PatWorld.

Current BBQ Landscape

Figure 2 illustrates a set of documents clustered according to their semantic proximity where a point corresponds to a patent family. The map provides a visualisation of the technology clusters prevalent within the barbecue portfolio and reveals a diverse set of interests. The largest clusters appear to mainly relate to portability (blue dots) and barbecue covers/smokers (orange dots). Other clusters appear to relate to specific parts of the barbecue such as the grill assembly (dark blue dots), the stove (red dots) and the fuel supply (brown dots) or to accessories such as tongs (purple dots). The last remaining clusters appear to relate to barbecue sauce (green dots, grey dots).

Figure 2. Barbecue-related patent family map (US only)
Figure 2. Barbecue-related patent family map (US only)

Weird and Wonderful BBQ

When conducting the research for this paper, we came across a number of stand-out patents. We thought it would be a disservice not to draw attention to at least some of these great innovations!

US2006254433A1 - Barbeque and smoker
US2006254433A1 – Barbeque and smoker. Abstract An apparatus for barbecue cooking and smoking is described herein. Provided is a grill enclosure having a grill chamber and an adjustable vent to allow smoke to be released from the grill chamber. Additionally, an adjustable venting hood is coupled to the grill enclosure to channel and control smoke from the grill chamber. A smoker that is coupled to the venting hood receives the smoke channelled from the grill chamber. The smoker includes one or more racks connected to an axle capable of movement



US2016345774A1 – Stadium Barbeque Grill – Abstract – A stadium barbecue grill comprising an upper hood and a lower base defining an interior of the grill, a grid cooking surface with an indicia of an American football field; and an exterior indicia of an American football stadium attached to the hood.

USD627597S – Boxing glove shaped barbecue grill



With the current long days and cool nights of the summer months upon us, we are well and truly into the prime barbecue season. It is a wonder how much of the innovation present in today’s barbecues is patented, and how today’s barbecues have been shaped by the patents before them. This brief and light-hearted glimpse into the patents behind the barbecue culture has shown that barbecue innovation appears to be on the decline, does this mean that we have already reached the pinnacle of barbecue related technology?

Although the barbecue appears to be a relatively simple invention, with a long patenting history, there still appears to be room for innovation, certainly for attachments, accessories and/or means to cook food not usually associated with a barbecue, such as pizzas. Could this be enough to warrant at least a small resurgence in US barbecue tech?

As we make our way through these summer months, people everywhere have a renewed sense of appreciation for the barbecue and its long-standing tradition of bringing friends, families and communities together. We hope that this report has helped increase that appreciation by drawing some attention to the hard, behind-the-scenes work that has gone into making the barbecue the amazing cooking device that it is today.

From everyone at Patent Seekers, we hope you have an amazing July 4th Weekend!

Happy Independence Day!

This article was written by Alec Griffiths, IP Manager at Patent Seekers.


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Climate Change Part 2 – Automotive IP – Driving Towards a Greener Future

It has become apparent that the automotive industry will play a major role in future efforts against global warming.  In this report, Filip Silvestre and Nathanael Ashworth. Patent Analysts at Patent Seekers, explore how innovation is driving the motor industry towards a green future.  They’ll also uncover the key players shaping the patent landscape.

Climate Change – Automotive IP – Driving Towards A Greener Future

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