3M, the manufacturing conglomerate behind Sticky Notes and N95 respirator masks, has filed a lawsuit in New York federal court alleging that Performance Supply LLC is price gouging customers of 3M products and engaging in deceptive trade practices.
In a statement, the Minnesota-based hygiene and office goods company alleged that Performance Supply made false claims about a business association with 3M and attempted to sell $45 million worth of N95 respirators to New York City officials for up to 600% 3M’s list price for the masks. 3M seeks an injunction against the defendant and says that any damages recovered from the case will be donated to “COVID-19 related nonprofit organizations.”
Insufficient supply for the mask relative to demand has driven bad actors to take advantage of the situation by defrauding consumers and city officials desperate to get their hands on the protective equipment. 3M says it has received reports of people falsely claiming to manufacture 3M products, falsely claiming business associations, and selling 3M products at “grossly inflated prices.”
While the lawsuit is the first announced by 3M to address fraudulent behavior, 3M says that they are taking several steps to address fraud and price-gouging. Denise Rutherford, Senior VP of Corporate Affairs at 3M, said lawsuits were “only one of many legal tools 3M is using to protect the public.”
On March 31, Mike Roman, CEO of 3M, said in a statement his company was working with law enforcement and retailers around the world in order to identify and remove sellers of counterfeit or price-gouged 3M goods from internet marketplaces.
“3M will take decisive action against those seeking to take illegal and unethical advantage of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Roman, adding that 3M was working with U.S. federal, state and local authorities on the matter.
3M advises that any customers of 3M goods should only purchase them in the original packaging. Products or packaging with notable defects like missing straps, “strange odors,” malfunctioning valves or misspelled words may be counterfeit. Customers with concerns about potentially fraudulent activity, price gouging, or counterfeit 3M products can report their concerns on 3M’s website.