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3M Uses Trademark Law to Fight N95 Mask Price Gouging

3M Fights gouging
With trademark infringement suit;
Will donate proceeds

As the Wall Street Journal reported, the 3M Company has filed suit in federal court in New York to try to stop price gouging by a distributor of 3M-brand N95 respirators (masks).

In its complaint, 3M noted that

The demand for 3M-branded respirators has grown exponentially in response to the pandemic, and 3M has been committed to seeking to meet this demand while keeping its respirators priced fairly. 3M has not increased the prices that it charges for 3M respirators as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

3M is suing a company called Performance Supply, LLC. The complaint alleges:

On or about March 30, 2020, Defendant sent a Formal Quote to New York City’s Office of Citywide Procurement, offering to sell millions of Plaintiff’s 3M-brand N95 respirator masks at a grossly inflated aggregate price of approximately $45 million. Defendant is not an authorized distributor of any of Plaintiff’s products and has no rights to use Plaintiff’s famous 3M marks. Nonetheless, to confuse and deceive New York City officials into believing that Defendant was an authorized distributor of Plaintiff’s products, Defendant reproduced the famous 3M marks throughout the Formal Quote, and attached to it Technical Specification Sheets that prominently feature Plaintiff’s famous 3M marks.

The defendant’s proposed price was 500%-600% above 3M’s list price.

3M is suing for

federal and state trademark infringement, unfair competition, false association, false endorsement, false designation of origin, trademark dilution, false advertising, and deceptive acts and practices.

The company is also seeking injunctive relief to stop the defendant’s practices.

3M notes that any damages, fees, or costs it recovers will be donated to charitable COVID-19 efforts.

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