3M says the New Jersey-based company Performance Supply was not authorized to distribute the masks and had attempted to inflate the price of the masks to a markup of more than 500% for New York.
Performance Supply offered them to the city on March 30 – when the number of coronavirus cases had skyrocketed and hospitals were struggling to provide workers with protective equipment. The price: more than $ 6 a mask, depending on the trial. 3M sells the masks at a list price of just over $ 1.
3M called New York’s performance supply offer “overpriced,” according to a trial before the Manhattan Federal Court on Friday.
Although the case looks like a fairly standard trademark and a false advertisement, it does highlight widespread price allegations that have popped up across the country since the onset of the national emergency. The company’s lawsuit is consistent with pressure from federal and state governments to crack down on price increases and other suspected fraud during the coronavirus pandemic.
Performance Supply has yet to respond to allegations in court.
“3M did not increase the prices charged for 3M respirators following the COVID-19 epidemic. Unfortunately, a number of criminals seek to exploit the current public health emergency and to attack innocent parties through various scams involving 3M N95. respirators and other products in high demand, “wrote 3M in the complaint.
“The unsavory characters are continuing their research to take advantage of health professionals, first responders and others in times of need and to share the renown of the 3M brand and brands. The defendant is a prime example of this illegal behavior. “
If the company obtains damages in the lawsuit, 3M has said it will donate them to charities working on Covid-19 relief, the complaint said.
In the lawsuit, 3M said it provided healthcare workers with 10 million N95 masks in the last week of March, and plans to make 1.1 billion masks a year.