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Students allegedly selling N95 masks for $17 each facing 3M lawsuit

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Published on April 29, 2020 with No Comments

3M alleges in its lawsuit filed in Ontario Superior Court that Caonic Systems Inc. was selling the masks for $17 each, a mark-up of more than five times the retail price.

Minnesota-based 3M, which produces the critically-important N95 respirators, is suing an Ontario business claiming false affiliation and price gouging.

3M alleges in its lawsuit filed in Ontario Superior Court that Caonic Systems Inc. was selling the masks for $17 each, a mark-up of more than five times the retail price. The directors of Caonic Systems Inc. registered a website via e-commerce platform Shopify called 3M-Health.com and began selling the masks, which they claimed were from certified suppliers in Singapore and the United Kingdom. Shopify closed the domain at 3M’s request. But 3M says the defendants, Zhiyu Pu and Harmen Mander, “immediately” reopened another website called www.tormenhealth.com and continued to claim an affiliation with 3M on social media. “After Shopify shut the second site, Caonic persisted, relaunching briefly on another platform,” according to a news release issued by 3M Canada.

Mander is reported to have claimed that they intended to use the proceeds of their operation to launch a non-profit marketplace platform for businesses which have been shut down during the pandemic. “We are university students, when the virus started in January, we noticed that a lot of schools were still operating as usual. Classrooms were packed. Many students, including ourselves, were concerned about our own personal safety,” Mander is reported to have said. “Our goal has always been to help small businesses, our communities, and friends and family around us.”

3M is requesting that the courts order Caonic to assist in identifying the location of any of their remaining respirators, as well as sharing sales and customer information. From there, 3M says that it will assist in evaluating the “authenticity” of the masks. If determined that the N95 masks sold by Caonic are legitimate, 3M says it will assist in returning them to fight COVID-19.

The problem is not limited to Canada, as per reports 3M has filed a series of similar legal actions in the United States. “The company is working with online retailers and technology companies such as Google, Amazon and Facebook to identify and remove counterfeiters and price gougers from their sites and refer them to law enforcement authorities.” In the meantime, 3M is asking people who have concerns about potentially fraudulent activity, price gouging and counterfeit products to file a report on their website.

 

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