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Patents represent a free and open source of data for studying innovation and forecasting technological trends. Thus, we suggest that new discussions about the role of patent information are needed. To illustrate the relevance of this issue, we performed a survey of patents involving skin care products, which were granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) between 2006 and 2010, to identify opportunities for innovation and technological trends. We quantified the use of technologies in 333 patents. We plotted a life cycle of technologies related to natural ingredients. We also determined the cross impact of the technologies identified. We observed technologies related to processes applied to cosmetics (2.2%), functional packaging and applicators (2.9%), excipients and active compounds (21.5%), and cosmetic preparations (73.5%). Further, 21.6% of the patents were related to the use of natural ingredients. Several opportunities for innovation were discussed throughout this paper, for example, the use of peptides as active compounds or intracellular carriers (only 3.9% of the technologies in cosmetic preparations). We also observed technological cross impacts that suggested a trend toward multifunctional cosmetics, among others. Patent surveys may help researchers with product innovation because they allow us to identify available and unexplored technologies and turn them into whole new concepts.


Ivan Domicio Da Silva Souza, Bárbara Juliana Pinheiro, Vania Passarini Takahashi. A patent survey case: how could technological forecasting help cosmetic chemists with product innovation? Journal of cosmetic science. 2012 Nov-Dec;63(6):365-83

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PMID: 23286869

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