In the article “3M legal team determined to unmask bogus N95 sellers,” The Minnesota Lawyer profiled 3M Company (3M)’s ongoing legal battles with individuals and companies that are selling N95 masks at inflated prices, offering respirators that don’t exist and trying to pass counterfeit goods. The company has filed more than a dozen lawsuits across the country. Faegre Drinker has worked with the longtime client on two legal actions related to the unauthorized sale of N95 masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Haley Schaffer, 3M senior counsel, told the legal industry publication that, “People come into the market who aren’t authorized 3M dealers. These cases came to us at a time when the demand was far exceeding the supply. People from all over were looking for respirators, and before long we were getting queries about whether a certain seller was legitimate.”
3M said it has won five temporary restraining orders and three preliminary injunction orders from courts across the country. The company’s efforts have shut down more than 3,000 websites and 4,000 social media posts that try to expropriate the 3M brand for profit.
Most of 3M’s N95 masks go to six primary health care distributors, according to Schaffer. Those companies work with FEMA and 3M to prioritize distribution to health care professionals and first responders who need them most.
Business Litigation partner John Ursu, who, along with a team of fellow Faegre Drinker lawyers, has filed a pair of legal actions related to the unauthorized sale of N95s, said he has been beyond impressed with how 3M has scored hit after hit on such a rapidly moving target.
“This is the best broken-field running I’ve seen from a group of in-house counsel,” Ursu said.
“They’ve been able to pivot into new areas of a massive gray market that popped up overnight and changes every day,” he added.