3M has filed a series of legal actions around its N95 respirators amid COVID-19 pandemic
Earlier this week, American PPE manufacturer 3M released a statement stating that it has filed a series of legal actions in the Superior Court of Justice in Ontario. This follows additional legal actions recently filed by 3M in four US states.
The manufacturer alleges that defendants Zhiyu Pu and Harmen Mander, directors of Caonic Systems, Inc, falsely affiliated themselves with the company to sell N95 respirators at higher prices.
3M claims that the defendants registered the domain 3M-Health.com on Shopify, a Canadian e-commerce platform. The manufacturer alleges that the defendants then sold respirators they falsely claimed originated from suppliers in Singapore and the UK that were 3M certified. Upon finding out, 3M requested that Shopify close the site, which they did.
Despite this, 3M claims that Caonic Systems then opened another Shopify site under a different name and continued to falsely claim affiliation with the PPE manufacturer on social media outlets. This site was also shut down by Shopify; Caonic Systems then relaunched on another platform. 3M states that the defendants were selling N95 respirators for $17 per unit, which they say is over five times the normal retail price.
Denise Rutherford, senior vice president of 3M’s corporate affairs said: "At 3M we are working hard to continue to increase production of respirators for the healthcare workers who need them the most in the fight against COVID-19, we are dedicated to putting a stop to those who are trying to cash in on this crisis and have taken legal action when we've identified illegal behavior in New York, California, Florida, Texas, and now Canada."
3M’s legal Application asks that the Court order Caonic Systems assist them in identifying the location of the remaining respirators as well as sharing sales and customer information. The PPE manufacturer will then help in evaluating whether the respirators are authentic, if so, they will be returned to help in the fight against COVID-19. 3M will inform customers if they are not authentic.
Once all the respirators have been traced and recovered, 3M will then pursue damages, with any damages recovered to be donated to COVID-19-related not-for-profit organizations.