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3M Sues Unauthorized Vendor for NYC N95 Mask Price-Gouging

April 10, 2020, 2:22 PM

3M Co. sued Performance Supply LLC in Manhattan federal court Friday, saying it falsely presented itself as an authorized vendor and offered 3M-brand N95 respirator masks to New York City’s Office of Citywide Procurement at a “grossly inflated” price of $45 million.

Performance Supply misused 3M’s trademarks on a “formal quote” to deceive the office into thinking it was affiliated with 3M, the complaint says.

“Despite 3M’s extensive efforts during COVID-19, unsavory characters continue their quests to take advantage of healthcare workers, first responders, and others in a time of need and trade off the fame of the 3M brand and marks,” 3M says. “Defendant is a prime example of this unlawful behavior.”

Performance Supply allegedly offered millions of 3M masks to the office on March 30 at prices that 3M says are 500-600% more than the masks’ list price. The complaint says Performance Supply successfully deceived the office into thinking it was an authorized 3M vendor, which identified Performance Supply as a 3M vendor on bid evaluation requests.

“3M does not—and will not—tolerate individuals or entities deceptively trading off the fame and goodwill of the 3M brand and marks for personal gain,” the complaint says. “This is particularly true against those who seek to exploit the surge in demand for 3M-brand products during the COVID-19 global pandemic.”

3M says any money it recovers in the case will be donated to Covid-19 relief efforts.

Causes of Action: Federal trademark infringement, trademark dilution, unfair competition, false endorsement, false association, false designation of origin, and false advertising; New York deceptive acts and practices, false advertising, dilution and injury to business reputation, trademark infringement, and unfair competition.

Relief: Injunctive relief, ordering Performance Supply to donate all profits from sales of the infringing goods to charity, damages.

Response: Contact information for Performance Supply wasn’t available.

Attorneys: Mayer Brown LLP represents 3M.

The case is 3M Co. v. Performance Supply LLC, S.D.N.Y., No. 1:20-cv-02949, complaint filed 4/10/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Blake Brittain in Washington at bbrittain@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Nicholas Datlowe at ndatlowe@bloomberglaw.com

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