What Responsibility Do Companies Have to Ensure Products In Their Name Aren't Misused?

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3M is suing Performance Supply for alleged price gouging. What responsibility does the company have to the consumer to ensure that their products and their name are not being misused?

Rebecca Rose Woodland, litigator and legal analyst, joined TheStreet to weigh in on what it all means. 

Watch the video above for more.

Video Transcript:

 Katherine Ross:
During this pandemic, we've seen a lot of people come together against a common enemy, the coronavirus. Let's talk about when we don't come together. That's where Rebecca Rose Woodland, litigator and legal attorney joins me.

Katherine Ross:
3M is suing Performance Supply for trademark infringement and price gouging. What responsibility does the company have to the consumer to ensure that their products and their name are not being misused?

Rebecca Rose Woodland:
That's a great question, Katherine, because 3M is now complaining and taking action against people who they have alleged are price gouging for personal protective equipment. Now, 3M specifically makes those masks, those N95 masks that are essential for healthcare workers to treat COVID patients and also for the general public to wear now that certain states are requiring masks be used in public.

Rebecca Rose Woodland:
3M is alleging that there are people out there, suppliers, distributors who are increasing the prices to an indiscriminate amount. They claim over 600% of the mask price has been asked to be paid by certain government officials.

Rebecca Rose Woodland:
3M sued in federal court to stop them and injunction. Stop right there, no price gouging with our product because these products are essential and we cannot be overcharging the end-user, the consumer, whoever it may be. The states, the city governments, and 3M insists that they will continue to root out the problem of price gougers.

Katherine Ross:
Is there any legal remedy for a healthcare worker or someone on the frontlines?

Rebecca Rose Woodland:
That's another great question. We've seen some lawsuits over the last couple of days. We have the attorney general of Ohio on behalf of the people of Ohio, suing some of these distributors as well for unfair practices under the Consumer Protection Act in Ohio saying that, "The nurses and the healthcare assistants and doctors, everyone on the frontline can't get the equipment because the prices are too high."

Rebecca Rose Woodland:
We also see the New York Nurses Union sued the state health authority for lack of personal protective equipment. That union is saying, "The state health authority did not provide nurses when they arrived to work with adequate supplies."

Rebecca Rose Woodland:
We see American healthcare workers class-action suit filed yesterday against China for holding the equipment that China makes. Now China makes a considerable mask to the 3M mask. They call it the K95, 3M calls theirs the N95. In this work, American healthcare workers class-action suit, they're claiming that, China withheld export of those goods that were necessary to the American health care community.

Rebecca Rose Woodland:
We're seeing a lot of lawsuits pop up. Really to enable our frontline workers to get goods at proper pricing and to get enough of them so they can continue helping people who are hurt with COVID and infected. They are trying to really work and give up themselves to help others. I think these lawsuits will be what is to come as the outbreak continues and as we try to curtail the outbreak further.

Katherine Ross:
Rebecca, thank you for joining us today. For more on the coronavirus pandemic, please head on over to the street.com.

Rebecca Rose Woodland:
Thank you.

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