Deceptive marketing and false claims for a COVID-19 test kit prompted a federal lawsuit in Tampa this week. On Wednesday, April 8, 2020, Coronacide, LLC filed a federal lawsuit against California-based Wellness Matrix Group (WM Group) for falsely marketing their Coronacide’s COVID19 rapid test kit. Coronacide is represented by intellectual property attorneys Anton Hopen of Smith & Hopen PA and Rick Fee of Fee & Jeffries, P.A. The COVID-19 test kit controversy has captured media attention (Bloomberg, Reuters, NPR, Law360).
Antibody COVID-19 Test
The CoronaCide Test Kits detect lgG and lgM antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in human blood. In simple terms, CoronaCide Test Kits use a blood sample to detect the presence of antibodies relating to the COVID-19 virus. It distributes these test kits under the trademark CoronaCide™.
Unlike conventional swab tests, CoronaCide™ COVID-19 IgG/IgM rapid tests analyze a patient’s blood sample for presence of antibodies, which increases the accuracy. Furthermore, this test does not require laboratory equipment and provides a clear result within ten minutes. The FDA has already authorized distribution of CoronaCide™ test kits to the licensed health care professionals. Although still awaiting the final FDA approval, CoronaCide™ has the potential to become a major breakthrough in the fight against COVID-19.
Refusal to Sell
According to the filed complaint, WM Group approached Coronacide with an offer to purchase test kits. Prior to accepting the offer, Plaintiff’s discovered a record of fraud lawsuits against the agents of WM Group including by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Coronacide refused to do business with WM Group and declined its offer to purchase CoronaCide™ test kits.
The federal complaint alleges WM Group launched multiple websites selling products using the CoronaCide™ brand. WM Group listed COVID-19 test kits at an over-inflated price, falsely advertising them as “approved for home use.” WM Group appropriated images and text from Coronacide’s website and posted this content on its own website, creating consumer confusion.
The lawsuit seeks an immediate injunction and damages for trademark infringement under 15 U.S.C. Section 1125(a) and deceptive and unfair business practices under Florida Statutes Section 501.201. The complaint alleges:
Defendants, through their use of the CoronaCide™ Trademark and the Defendants’ Deceptive CoronaCide Content, have without authorization, in connection with advertising and marketing their purported goods and/or services in interstate commerce, made or contributed to the making of false designations of origin, false or misleading descriptions of fact, and/or false or misleading representations of fact, which are likely to cause confusion, mistake, or to deceive as to the affiliation, connection or association of Defendants with CoronaCide, and/or as to the origin, sponsorship, or approval of Defendants’ goods and/or services, in violation of Section 43 (a)(l)(A) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a)(l)(A).
The case is currently pending in United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division as Case No. 8:20-CV-0816.