A temporary restraining order has been granted in favor of 3M Company by Judge Sue Richard Nelson in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota in 3M Company v. Matthew Starsiak, et al. The litigation was filed by Faegre Drinker against Matthew Starsiak, AMK Energy Services LLC and John Does 1 through 10, for ongoing attempts to claim affiliation with 3M, and alleged unauthorized use of the company’s famous trademarks to perpetrate a false and deceptive scheme on unwitting individuals and companies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lawsuit asserts that Starsiak falsely claimed to be affiliated with 3M, the Gates Foundation and the law firm Dentons as part of a scam to deceive buyers into purchasing billions of fictitious 3M N95 respirators. 3M has no affiliation with the Defendants and Defendants have no access to legitimate 3M-branded respirators.
Judge Nelson ruled that sufficient reason had been shown to grant a temporary restraining order sought by 3M and set a hearing to address preliminary injunctive relief on Aug. 3, 2020. 3M will donate any damages, costs or fees it recovers to COVID-19 charitable relief efforts. 3M has not raised prices on its respirators during the global pandemic.
Faegre Drinker partner John Ursu is leading a multi-office team of business litigation, intellectual property, and white-collar litigators in the representation of 3M, including Minneapolis partners Kerry Bundy and Peter Routhier, and associates Michael Sawers, Isaac Hall, and David Gomez, as well as New York City partner Peter Baldwin. The case has been featured in Law360 and Minnesota Lawyer.
This is the second lawsuit Faegre Drinker has filed on behalf of 3M in the company’s continued fight against N95 respirator fraud, price gouging and counterfeiting. In May 2020, an Indiana federal judge granted a temporary restraining order and subsequently issued a preliminary injunction in a price gouging case against Nevada-based Zachary Puznak and Zenger LLC (d/b/a ZeroAqua), where Defendants falsely claimed to be receiving the “counsel of executives from 3M” while seeking between $285 million and $14.25 billion to sell much-needed respirators to the state of Indiana as an “Easter gift.” The Indiana case was featured in a comprehensive investigative report by USA Today.
3M has filed a series of similar legal actions over the past several weeks across the United States. The company is working with national and international law enforcement, state attorneys general, and the largest online retail and tech companies in the world to identify illegal activity and help punish criminals, with the end goal being to prevent fraud before it starts and stop it where it is happening.