3M sues Canadian men for bootlegging, price gouging

Face mask manufacturing giant 3M has bought a lawsuit against the directors of a Canadian company on Tuesday, claiming the two Ontario men “falsely affiliated themselves with 3M to sell N95 respirators at exorbitant prices during the pandemic.”

3M filed the action in the Superior Court of Justice in Ontario against Zhiyu Pu of Waterloo, ON and Harmen Mander of Brampton, ON, who are listed as the directors of Caonic Systems, Inc.

3M is alleging that “the defendants registered 3M-Health.com on the Canadian e-commerce platform Shopify, and starting in March, sold respirators they fraudulently claimed originated from 3M certified suppliers in Singapore and the UK.”

The Minnesota-based manufacturer further alleges that “on March 31, at 3M’s request, Shopify closed the site. Caonic Systems immediately reopened another Shopify site as 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. Caonic was selling the N95 respirators for $17.00 each, more than five times the appropriate retail price.”

3M is asking the Court to order Caonic to assist in identifying the location of any remaining respirators and sharing sales and customer information. 3M will assist in evaluating the respirators’ authenticity. If the N95s are authentic, 3M will support returning them for use in efforts to fight COVID-19. If they are not authentic, 3M will inform Caonic’s customers. Once the respirators are recovered, 3M will pursue damages. 3M will donate any damages recovered to COVID-19-related nonprofit organizations.

“At 3M we are working hard to continue to increase production of respirators for the healthcare workers who need them the most in the fight against COVID-19,” said Denise Rutherford, 3M Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs. “We are dedicated to putting a stop to those who are trying to cash in on this crisis and have taken legal action when we’ve identified illegal behavior in New York, California, Florida, Texas, and now Canada.”

3M has already filed a series of legal actions in four US. states over the past week for similar cases of bootlegging and price gouging.

The company stated that it’s” 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. Indeed, prior to filing this action, 3M reported the information regarding these defendants to the Ontario authorities. The goal is to prevent fraud before it starts and stop it where it is happening.”