A multinational company has filed a lawsuit accusing a Lexington company of selling counterfeit N95 masks during the pandemic, according to court records.
The lawsuit accuses Old World Timber LLC of trademark counterfeiting, trademark infringement, unfair competition and other violations, as well as using 3M’s name and trademark without authorization, according to the complaint. It also accuses the company of “exploitation of a worldwide pandemic for defendant’s inappropriate commercial benefit.”
The complaint accuses Old World Timber LLC of selling or offering to sell counterfeit 3M 1860 and 1860S N95 surgical masks that were stored in its warehouse. The complaint also alleges that there’s no evidence or assurance that the fake masks Old World Timber was trying to sell met the standards or quality control of real N95 masks.
“Defendant’s continued sale of these counterfeit products jeopardizes the general public’s health and safety, as unsuspecting customers purchase these 3M-branded respirators with the belief that they are genuine 3M-branded respirators that meet the N95 standard,“ according to the complaint.
Though Old World Timber did not immediately respond to requests from the Herald-Leader for comment, the company did provide a statement to WKYT, the Herald-Leader’s reporting partner.
“On June 4, 2021, the U.S. Marshal’s seized masks from Old World Timber,” the company told the news station. “Old World Timber has no interest in purchasing, marketing, or selling counterfeit masks. The 3M complaint presents only one side of the case. Old World Timber is actively working with 3M to reach a settlement of the case. In light of the active settlement negotiations in the case, OWT cannot comment further on the case.”
In its lawsuit, 3M argues that Old World Timber was knowingly using “falsified paperwork” to sell the product to “unsuspecting customers.”
“Worse still, defendant knows this paperwork is fake because 3M told it so,” 3M’s attorneys wrote in the lawsuit complaint. “In these circumstances, defendant’s continuing unlawful activity is causing 3M and the general public irreparable harm.”
Old World Timber had contacted 3M in December to verify that documents from a Hong Kong seller were authentic, and that the N95 masks it was selling were from 3M. A representative of 3M advised Old World Timber not to go through with the mask transaction because some of the documents were fake, but the Lexington company went ahead with the transaction anyway, the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit also accuses Old World Timber of using similar fake documents while trying to sell the N95 masks months later.
In a press release, 3M wrote that more than one million masks had been seized from Old World Timber.
“3M will continue to take action against those who sell fake products and put lives at risk during the pandemic, and we appreciate the prompt action by the U.S. Marshals Service and the court to help protect unsuspecting customers,” 3M senior vice president Kevin Rhodes said in the release.. “We will continue to offer our resources to check suspicious offers and get counterfeit products off the market.”