Covid-19: 3M defends its image

A registered trademark offers a company the possibility to act against anyone who undermines its image.

Registered trademarks offer their owners intellectual property rights that stretch farther than one may believe. The titleholder reserves the exclusive right to use (or not to use) the brand name, to assign it, sell it, and to prohibit third parties from using it. The holder also has the right to act against anyone undermining the brand name. This enables the former, in particular, to actively defend its image.

Current affairs offer us an interesting example of how a firm defends, via its brand names, its market image.

The mask manufacturer 3M has initiated a number of legal proceedings against companies taking advantage of the Covid-19 crisis to sell its products at prices higher than those normally applied.
The firm had observed that certain unscrupulous distributors were selling 3M respirator masks to American states and to organisations such as hospitals at prices 500 to 600 times too high, whereas the manufacturer had not increased its own prices.

3M considered that such behaviour undermined its renown and that of its products. The firm believes that this gives rise to confusion among the public and the false impression that 3M is behind this behaviour and/or approves it.

Hence, for example, the lawsuit filed on 10th April 2020 for trademark infringement against the N95 respirator distributor Performance Supply LLC, established in New Jersey.

Every company should consider a protective strategy for each brand, in order to distinguish its products and services from those of its competitors and to defend them, all the more so given that brand protection is not very costly and that protection is permanently renewable.