KITCHENER -- 3M has launched a lawsuit against a business registered to a Waterloo address, claiming false affiliation and price gouging.

3M makes N-95 respirators which are the masks commonly used by frontline medical workers.

The lawsuit filed in Ontario Superior Court alleges Caonic Systems Inc. sold the masks for $17each, which is a mark-up of more than five times the retail price.

3M is also claiming the directors of Caonic Systems Inc., Zhiyu Pu and Harmen Mander, registered a website called on Shopify.

The lawsuit alleges the pair sold the masks claiming they were from certified suppliers in Singapore and the United Kingdom.

Mander told CTV News in an email he was concerned about the safety of himself and fellow university students when the COVID-19 outbreak began.

“Our goal has always been to help small businesses, our communities and friends and family around us,” he says.

He says they intended to use the proceeds to launch a non-profit marketplace platform for businesses that were shut down during the pandemic.

Shopify says they closed more than 5000 stores on their platform for policy violations in the wake of COVID-19.

But the lawsuit alleges after being shut down, Caonic Systems Inc. re-opened another Shopify site, calling it and continuing to claim an affiliation with 3M on social media.

That site was shut down and the lawsuit claims the company tried to relaunch a third time.

Mander says they sold less than 50 packs of respirators before the store was taken down by Shopify.

The lawsuit says 3M is requesting the courts order Caonic to identify the location of any remaining respirators. Then 3M can evaluate if the masks are authentic. If they are not legitimate, customers will be notified.

3M says once all the respirators are recovered they will pursue damages and donate the money to COVID-19 related non-profit organizations.

None of these allegations have been proven in court.