Trademarks are for protecting important property like names and logos. While this can be as simple as barring someone from using your likeness, the protections for your brand likely extend much further.
The 3M Company has filed six lawsuits alleging violations of federal trademark law. They say resellers may be damaging their brand by inflating prices on disposable respirator masks. 3M believes it could end up costing their brand irreparable damage.
One suit contained allegations of a company attempting to sell the masks to New York City officials. The lawsuit states that the defendants were trying to increase prices by up to 600%. All the while, they represented that they had a standing business partnership with 3M.
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York heard this case and granted a temporary restraining order, followed by a preliminary injunction. They found several ways that the defendant was damaging the trademarked brand:
- Business ties: The company told buyers they were working with 3M when there was no affiliation. Pricing decisions were made independently of the manufacturer.
- Quality assurance: 3M is unable to guarantee the quality of products sold beyond established arrangements. The false association led purchasers to believe the masks still lived up to company standards.
- Damaging perception: The act of price-gouging could cause damage to brand perception. If consumers thought 3M was responsible, it’s possible that no amount of public relations spending could help.
3M is successfully using trademark law to protect their brand from harm. Understanding how far these securities can reach on your behalf may be difficult to know, but essential for covering your property in the future.