June 2020

Angela He and Zachary Alinder write “3M’s Litigation Crusade: The Price-Gouging Saga” for the World Intellectual Property Review


What lessons can be learned from 3M’s determined campaign against the alleged price-gouging of its face masks? Angela He and Zachary Alinder of Sideman & Bancroft report.

One unfortunate legal issue that has gained traction as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is severe price-gouging by unscrupulous resellers. They seek to take advantage of the high demand for pandemic-specific necessities, such as hand sanitisers, face masks, essential groceries, and of course, toilet paper.

Such price-gouging schemes have triggered a slew of new lawsuits under consumer protection statutes. Some companies have sought to extend federal trademark law to prevent this same price-gouging from harming their brands and business reputations.

A string of cases filed by 3M Company is instructive regarding the circumstances in which companies may be entitled to seek relief under the Lanham Act against bad actors falsely associating their brands with the resale of products at highly inflated prices.

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