3M Co. sued a medical supplier in Wisconsin federal court Tuesday for claiming to be able to sell hundreds of thousands of N95 respirators to the state at an artificially inflated price.
The complaint is the latest in a volley of trademark infringement claims filed by 3M targeting companies for engaging in N95 price gouging during the Covid-19 crisis. 3M has also sued alleged price gougers in New York, California, Texas, and Florida.
3M said Scott Patella, a registered agent of Hulomil LLC, contacted Wisconsin’s Department of Administration offering a minimum of 250,000 N95 masks at the “grossly inflated” price of $3.75 per mask, which 3M says is 250 to 350% above its list price. Patella allegedly told the department he had “direct access” to 3M, and promised to eliminate “multiple middle men” from the deal.
“Put simply, Hulomil did everything it could to suggest that Wisconsin would be dealing essentially directly with 3M—and thus to associate 3M with its price gouging,” the complaint said. “Defendant is not, and never has been, an authorized distributor of any of 3M’s products and has no right to use 3M’s famous marks.”
It also called Hulomil’s claim it could sell hundreds of thousands of N95s “implausible at best.”
Hulomil also allegedly attempted to cover up its misconduct with a non-disclosure agreement that 3M said would conceal the identities of “anyone involved in any way in the scheme.”
3M said it would donate any damages it won in the case to charity.
Causes of Action: Federal trademark infringement, trademark dilution, unfair competition, false endorsement, false association, false designation of origin, and false advertising; Wisconsin state trademark infringement, price gouging, and deceptive advertising; common law trademark infringement.
Relief: Injunctive relief; damages; attorneys’ fees.
Attorneys: Goldman Ismail Tomaselli Brennan & Baum LLP represents 3M.
For additional legal resources, visit Bloomberg Law In Focus: Coronavirus (Bloomberg Law Subscription).
The case is 3M Co. v. Hulomil LLC, W.D. Wis., No. 3:20-cv-00394, complaint filed 4/28/20.