Is this Greed or Business?

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Saponificarian

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There is this fast buy fragrance group I am a member on Facebook. She brings in Designer dupe FOs and discontinued FOs from other suppliers which I think is great but more and more I am starting to feel uneasy about the direction her group and business is going.

What is happening in her group is people are buying fragrances from Brambleberry, Wooden Wick to send to her to duplicate and then she would do group buys on these fragrances.

I have my issues with Brambleberry but seriously I just feel it is wrong for BB and WW to commit several thousand of dollars in Research and Development to come up with their own fragrances and then just have them sent to AFI for duping. Even fragrances that are new collections. These are women owned businesses that grew from scratch, some of them probably took out loans to get to where they are and then this person is trying to take a short cut to success.

Is this ethical or it’s just business?
 

cerelife

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I personally wouldn't be comfortable with this practice.
It's one thing to dupe a fragrance that has been discontinued / from a company no longer in business - but to make a business of duping fragrances that are currently available from the original vendors seems unethical indeed.
 

rdc1978

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How is she able to duplicate the fragrance? I'm mostly curious. You'd have to get everything just right. I don't know if I can be too judgy since I like being duplicates of fragrances from Lush or Thierry Mugler. However, I assume the company that makes these duplicates has to put a ton of time into developing the fragrance oil duplicates because its probably a very complicated and well protected secret, right?
 

Saponificarian

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How is she able to duplicate the fragrance? I'm mostly curious. You'd have to get everything just right. I don't know if I can be too judgy since I like being duplicates of fragrances from Lush or Thierry Mugler. However, I assume the company that makes these duplicates has to put a ton of time into developing the fragrance oil duplicates because its probably a very complicated and well protected secret, right?
So she sends 1-2oz of fragrance oils to AFI and their chemist do a gas chromatography to break down and analyze the components of the FO and in what percentages they might be present in the FO sample and then they use that percentage to formulate a similar one. I have no qualms buying Lush or BBW dupes. They don’t sell FOs for soaps and B&B. Plus they are massive enough to not care or come after you with their lawyers.
 

GemstonePony

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Aren't there copyright laws that cover this sort of thing? And by "cover" I mean "forbid"?
Since the companies that sell B&B products with their own fragrances incorporated don't offer those fragrances for sale themselves, I don't have a problem with those fragrances being duplicated since the products being sold have similar elements (fragrance) but different uses.
However, if someone was selling entirely duplicate B&B products, then I would again question the legality of it under copyright laws.
 

rdc1978

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So she sends 1-2oz of fragrance oils to AFI and their chemist do a gas chromatography to break down and analyze the components of the FO and in what percentages they might be present in the FO sample and then they use that percentage to formulate a similar one. I have no qualms buying Lush or BBW dupes. They don’t sell FOs for soaps and B&B. Plus they are massive enough to not care or come after you with their lawyers.
Oh my that is interesting! That makes it even more of an ethical question. If someone was putting in the elbow grease to make the F/O dupe then it might not be so egregious. But yeah, I could see the ethical dilemma if what they are doing is more like just putting it in a machine.

On the one hand, it probably serves a market. There was someone new to the group a few weeks ago who was just struggling with the cost of F/O and being able to buy super cheap is probably really helpful. And her purchase from a group like that wouldn't cannabalize sales from BB, because the price points are different.

On the other hand, part of the reason the price is higher at BB is because they have to put in the time to develop their F/O. I assume you couldn't just use the exact same ingredients as whats in the perfume (that could be wrong).

Aren't there copyright laws that cover this sort of thing? And by "cover" I mean "forbid"?
Since the companies that sell B&B products with their own fragrances incorporated don't offer those fragrances for sale themselves, I don't have a problem with those fragrances being duplicated since the products being sold have similar elements (fragrance) but different uses.
However, if someone was selling entirely duplicate B&B products, then I would again question the legality of it under copyright laws.
Intellectual property was forever ago, but I do remember that there was some ruling that utilitarian things, like recipes could not get trademark protection. They could get copyright protection, but that's just barring printed material. Where someone is just reverse engineering something like this it may not apply. I think its why the formula for coke is so closely guarded.
 

violets2217

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I have no qualms buying Lush or BBW dupes.
Thank goodness! Some of favorite FO's are Dupes! I was starting to feel guilty!
But I hear what your saying! Bramble Berry develops these FO for soaps and stuff specifically and her actions are more on the side of stealing. But if they don't have patents for all their in house created FO... is it illegal? Good question! I remember reading about lushes bubble bars and their patent for it and how you are not legally able to sell a bubbler bar using the same ingredients and such. Quite the squeaky situation!
 

GemstonePony

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I feel like fragrances are basically art, since they have no practical purpose and their value is assessed entirely by individual preference, so... I get that it might not be illegal, but I'd rather pay more money to support the business that develops the things I like so they can keep doing that. Whereas supporting someone who's just duplicating their work, the money doesn't go towards further development. I'd understand duplicating discontinued items, because then they're just filling a hole in the market, but competing with the developers isn't a good long-term business strategy.
 

rdc1978

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Thank goodness! Some of favorite FO's are Dupes! I was starting to feel guilty!
But I hear what your saying! Bramble Berry develops these FO for soaps and stuff specifically and her actions are more on the side of stealing. But if they don't have patents for all their in house created FO... is it illegal? Good question! I remember reading about lushes bubble bars and their patent for it and how you are not legally able to sell a bubbler bar using the same ingredients and such. Quite the squeaky situation!
IIRC (I'm remembering more now that my poor addled brain is thinking about it), you can only get a patent for an invention so that may be how Lush was able to get a patent on their bar. I think that ostensibly, if a f/o recipe were to fall into any class it would be a patent because its an invention, but, I'm not sure if it would qualify as "new and nonobvious"

Because I am a dweeb, I looked this up. Its kind of an interesting read. I had thought trade secrets too, but apparently, that doesn't bar someone from reverse engineering the product.

 

TheGecko

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Fragrance Oils, Perfumes, Colognes, etc cannot be copyrighted...they are too intangible, too volatile***. On the other hand the name, packaging, container (specifically designed and manufactured) can be trademarked/copyrighted.

*** - Not every scent smells the same on everyone
 

Vicki C

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IIRC (I'm remembering more now that my poor addled brain is thinking about it), you can only get a patent for an invention so that may be how Lush was able to get a patent on their bar. I think that ostensibly, if a f/o recipe were to fall into any class it would be a patent because its an invention, but, I'm not sure if it would qualify as "new and nonobvious"

Because I am a dweeb, I looked this up. Its kind of an interesting read. I had thought trade secrets too, but apparently, that doesn't bar someone from reverse engineering the product.

Appreciate your input and curiosity! Signed, also a dweeb 🤓
 

TheGecko

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I had thought trade secrets too, but apparently, that doesn't bar someone from reverse engineering the product.
Yes and no...it depends on whether there is a patent for it. As an example...I make a particular item for which I have a patent for. You buy the item, study it, take it apart and are able to recreate it. You can't do anything with it, because I hold a patent on the item.

On the other hand, I have a sweater that I really like, but it's getting old. I have carefully studied it, counted stitches and row and have written a pattern for it. I can legally sell the pattern because 1) only the written pattern is copyrighted, not the design. 2) I didn't use the original pattern to make my pattern.

"Trade Secrets" are a wholly different deal and can be really complex. Trade secrets are protected so long as they remain secret and every step is taken to make sure they remain secret...like the Colonel's "11 herbs and spices" or Coca-Cola's formula or a particular manufacturing process to make something. It is legal to reverse engineer something that is a 'trade secret' so long as the item is fairly obtained. And of course it is possible that two different people can independently can come up with the same process...which is why people with obtain a patent.
 

lsg

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There are many companies who offer Dupe fragrances. If we don't approve, then that certainly limits the suppliers we buy from.
 

justjacqui

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Fragrances are protected by trade secret rather than patents and I think most fragrance houses prefer this. If you patent something then you basically give everybody the knowledge to copy it.

Fragrances can be made up of dozens or even hundreds of components. Make sure that you test any duplicated fragrances because even minor differences in the fragrance composition can cause big differences to the product you are making.
 

rdc1978

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Yes and no...it depends on whether there is a patent for it. As an example...I make a particular item for which I have a patent for. You buy the item, study it, take it apart and are able to recreate it. You can't do anything with it, because I hold a patent on the item.

On the other hand, I have a sweater that I really like, but it's getting old. I have carefully studied it, counted stitches and row and have written a pattern for it. I can legally sell the pattern because 1) only the written pattern is copyrighted, not the design. 2) I didn't use the original pattern to make my pattern.

"Trade Secrets" are a wholly different deal and can be really complex. Trade secrets are protected so long as they remain secret and every step is taken to make sure they remain secret...like the Colonel's "11 herbs and spices" or Coca-Cola's formula or a particular manufacturing process to make something. It is legal to reverse engineer something that is a 'trade secret' so long as the item is fairly obtained. And of course it is possible that two different people can independently can come up with the same process...which is why people with obtain a patent.
Yes, with a patent you couldn't reverse engineer, but under trade secrets you could.

But it would be hard to get the patent because the fragrance oil may not be considered "new and non-obvious"

There are many companies who offer Dupe fragrances. If we don't approve, then that certainly limits the suppliers we buy from.
I like drawing the line (morally and ethically at least) to not buying a dupe of an actual fragrance oil.

I can see the logic, Theirry Mugler and Clinique aren't going to come out with a line of soaping fragrance oils for "Angel" or "Happy" so buying a duplicate f/o of Angel or Happy isn't going to cannibalize their business. They won't lose profits they would have otherwise had if I had purchased a f/o from them because they don't offer it. I guess a person could argue that I might have purchased the perfume, but, I think thats speculative, and in my case.......wrong. However, if I buy a dupe of a BB f/o, that sale is taking away from their profits. In some cases it may not because the soaper finds the f/o so expensive that they at the BB price point, they just aren't going to buy any f/o....but that seems like it would be a fairly small group.

But gosh, what an interesting conversation! I haven't thought about this stuff in like FOREVER, and its really interesting to think about the legal questions and really the moral and ethical questions involved.
 

dibbles

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Another thought, then. What about soap suppliers who sell dupes of fragrances that bath and body companies have developed. Love Spell (Victoria's Secret), Black Raspberry Vanilla (retired, but still available on the Bath & Body Works website), and Lush Dupes are available from most vendors (Bramble Berry included). I know these companies don't sell FOs, but they do sell the products that we use the FOs to make.

As to the original question - I don't have an answer.
 

Saponificarian

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Another thought, then. What about soap suppliers who sell dupes of fragrances that bath and body companies have developed. Love Spell (Victoria's Secret), Black Raspberry Vanilla (retired, but still available on the Bath & Body Works website), and Lush Dupes are available from most vendors (Bramble Berry included). I know these companies don't sell FOs, but they do sell the products that we use the FOs to make.

As to the original question - I don't have an answer.
For me, BBW, Lush don’t make FOs to sell. The reason most people started to make their own products is while they love the fragrances of these products from BBW and Lush, they react to some of the ingredients in them. Therefore, buying dupes of these FOs to make products with ingredients that agree with your skin is fun! It’s not taking business away from BBW because you won’t buy their products anyway if you react to it.

Now, duping fragrances from small businesses that sell these FOs, they spent money on R&D to develop these FOs, is not ethical in my books. Especially when you encourage people to go buy from these businesses so you can dupe them and sell for less. This is cannibalism.

My opinion anyways.
 

dibbles

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@Saponificarian Personally I agree with you. It is wrong to have others buy the FOs from a company for the purpose of duping them.

I didn't start making soap, etc. because commercial products caused a reaction to my skin, though, and I do think there are plenty of makers who found an enjoyable hobby/small business to pursue for reasons other than that as well. So, would it be wrong for me to make a lotion with a BBW FO dupe, when I can use the lotion they sell without a problem? Just wondering here - I don't sell, so I'm not profiting from it, and I've just not thought about it before in terms of using a BBW or Lush dupe.
 

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@Saponificarian Personally I agree with you. It is wrong to have others buy the FOs from a company for the purpose of duping them.

I didn't start making soap, etc. because commercial products caused a reaction to my skin, though, and I do think there are plenty of makers who found an enjoyable hobby/small business to pursue for reasons other than that as well. So, would it be wrong for me to make a lotion with a BBW FO dupe, when I can use the lotion they sell without a problem? Just wondering here - I don't sell, so I'm not profiting from it, and I've just not thought about it before in terms of using a BBW or Lush dupe.
I don't know about the lotion thing. I see it as fair game. It's not like BBW is 100% ethical or they would not have had the backlash they did when they came out with a Holo Taco inspired product and NOT consult the owner about it(I forgot her name).
 

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