Law360 (April 17, 2020, 1:51 PM EDT) -- Over the last week, 3M and the government set out to limit price gouging in protective gear and drugs, respectively, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lawmakers also checked up on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's well-being, and courts switched over to remote arguments.
3M Co. launched trademark litigation against New Jersey's Performance Supply LLC and Utah's Rx2Live LLC on April 10, accusing them of reselling its 3M-branded masks at drastically increased prices. 3M claims the companies used confusing tactics to mislead buyers into thinking the companies — and their "unconscionably high prices" — were somehow authorized by 3M.
Whether the country's largest producer of the masks will be successful in using trademark law to attack price gouging is to be seen.
Then on Wednesday, a group of senior Democrats from the U.S. House of Representatives outlined an approach to pricing coronavirus-related pharmaceuticals.
They said coronavirus treatments should not be eligible for exclusivity, the period when drugmakers get a monopoly on selling the medicines they develop without competition from generic offerings. Among their other principles, the lawmakers want "reasonable" pricing, regardless of whether drugmakers used public funding in research and development.
On Tuesday, bipartisan leaders from both the House and U.S. Senate asked the USPTO for information on the impact of the public health crisis on the agency's operations. Mainly, they wanted to know about its transition to remote work, including whether its resources are sufficient, along with information on declining trademark application filings and the fee-based agency's financial status.
Also this week, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will be holding May oral arguments over teleconference, a practice that the Federal Circuit just completed recently for the first time.
--Additional reporting by Bill Donahue, Lauren Berg and Andrew Kragie. Editing by Jack Karp.
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