3M Settles Price-Gouging Trademark Case In Florida

By Bill Donahue
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Law360 (May 15, 2020, 7:12 PM EDT) -- 3M Co. has reached a settlement in one of several trademark lawsuits it has filed against companies reselling N95 masks at drastically increased prices during the coronavirus pandemic, according to papers filed in Florida federal court Friday.

In a filing, 3M said it had reached a settlement with 1 Ignite Capital LLC to end a lawsuit that claimed the company used misleading language in an attempt to sell millions of masks to a Florida government agency at more than four times their actual price.

The terms of the deal were not publicly disclosed. Neither side immediately returned requests for comment on the deal.

The case against 1 Ignite was part of a nationwide litigation campaign from 3M — the country's largest producer of N95 masks — that aims to use trademark law to fight price-gouging during the pandemic.

Friday's agreement appears to be the first settlement struck by 3M in the cases.

Like previous cases, the new case claimed that 1 Ignite used 3M's name and other misleading tactics to falsely suggest that it is an authorized vendor of 3M masks, meaning its inflated prices are approved or endorsed by the company.

"To confuse and deceive the [Florida Division of Emergency Management], defendants claimed that 3M had implemented intricate procedural steps that required the DEM to engage one or more defendants as an escrow agent and deposit DEM funds into an escrow account if the DEM wanted to buy 3M masks," the company wrote in the lawsuit against 1 Ignite.

"This included 3M purportedly wanting a proof of funds from the DEM and that '3M will perform a background check' on the DEM," 3M wrote.

3M has filed 10 such lawsuits in federal courts around the country, including in New York, California, Wisconsin and Indiana, plus three in Florida. It's also filed a case in Texas state court and another in Canada.

3M is represented by Wilson Chu, Michael Chu, Michael Weaver, Joseph Wasserkrug, Colin Stalter and Kristin Taylor of McDermott Will & Emery LLP.

Counsel for 1 Ignite never made a formal appearance in the lawsuit.

The case is 3M Co. v. 1 Ignite Capital LLC et al., case number 4:20-cv-00225, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida.

--Editing by Abbie Sarfo.

For a reprint of this article, please contact reprints@law360.com.

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Florida Northern

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April 30, 2020

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