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Korean start-up claims LG H&H stole its concept of tattoo printer

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Korean start-up claims LG H&H stole its concept of tattoo printer

South Korean start-up Prinker Korea has accused LG Household & Health Care of copying the design of its personalized tattoo printing device, sold under the name Prinker M.

Prinker said that LG H&H had applied for a design patent in September 2020 under the name "tattoo printer," despite signing a non-disclosure agreement in June 2019 regarding a potential commercial relationship.

The start-up alleged that LG H&H's portable temporary tattoo printer, known as IMPRINTU, shares certain similarities in concept, design, and dimensions with Prinker M, noting that LG H&H had purchased Prinker's products.

While LG H&H acknowledged buying Prinker's products, they claimed it was only a "routine market assessment" operation before entering a new market.

"LG Household & Health Care's portable temporary tattoo printer, set to be revealed at the Mobile World Congress this week, is another example of a large conglomerate copying the concept, technology, and the idea created by a smaller startup," Prinker said in a statement posted on its website.

According to Prinker, its portable tattoo printer is sold in 80 countries, including the United States, France, and Germany, and can print a variety of designs on people's skin.

French cosmetics company L'Oreal decided to invest in Prinker in January, the start-up claimed, without disclosing the amount of the investment.

Prinker has brought up the situation with the Korean Ministry of SMEs and Startups, and intends to file a lawsuit against LG H&H for allegedly breaking the unfair competition prevention act.

However, LG H&H has denied the allegations, claiming that since signing the non-disclosure agreement in June 2019, it has not been in contact with the startup in any way, whether by phone, email or in person.

In addition, LG H&H refuted assertions that Prinker invented the tattoo printer concept because Hewlett-Packard Company had already patented it in 1999.

"LG H&H has been careful to avoid patents already existing in the market since the early development stages of IMPRINTU. We are a runner-up in the market and have been working with companies such as LG Electronics, HP, and others since 2019," the group said.

If true, the charges would represent the most recent instance of an intellectual property theft issue between a small company and a major multinational in South Korea.

Last month, PitchMark wrote a similar story about Korean startup Algocare that accused the conglomerate Lotte of stealing its AI-powered nutrient dispenser technology and using it in their own product. The start-up claimed that over the course of several meetings from September to October 2021 to discuss potential partnership and growth strategies, Lotte gathered information about Algocare’s "Nutrition Engine," a cartridge-type nutrient dispenser.

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Mark Laudi

Mark Laudi

Press contact Managing Partner (+65) 6223 2249

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