Recently, 3M, the American respirator manufacturer, sued two Canadian students for allegedly selling N95 face masks at grossly high prices amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The FDA-approved N95 mask developed by 3M has surged in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic due to its ability to protect mask wearers from air particles, including those the size of the novel coronavirus. There is a current shortage of these masks in Canada and many consumers are urgently searching online for sellers with N95 inventory.
Caonic Systems Inc. (Caonic), a company with students Zhiyu Pu and Harmen Mander (the “defendants”) listed as directors, allegedly sold these masks using a Shopify-based website called “3M-Health”. Masks on this website were sold for $17 USD, a price over five times higher than the mask retail price. Given that 3M was not supplying these masks to the defendants, they did not want to be associated with Caonic’s activities. As a result, Shopify shut down the 3M-Health website on March 31, 2020. The defendants allegedly reopened a new website under the name "Tormen Health", and continued to run operations under a claimed affiliation with 3M on social media.
3M is requesting that the Ontario Superior Court compel the two defendants to provide the location of any remaining masks so they can assess the authenticity of the product, and information regarding the sales of these masks to previous customers.
This is not the first lawsuit 3M has brought against retailers' price-gouging and claiming false affiliation with the brand, as the company has brought similar actions in New York, California, Florida, and Texas.
Summary By: Juliette Sakran
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