Judge Dismisses Post-it Note Inventor Lawsuit

Post-it NotesA federal district court judge in Florida has dismissed a lawsuit against the 3M Company by a man who claims to have invented Post-it Notes.

Alan Amron filed a lawsuit against 3M in January, arguing that the company breached its previous agreement not to take credit for inventing Post-it Notes. He sought $400 million in damages. U.S. District Court Judge James Cohn ruled that Amron’s previous settlement with 3M “unambiguously covers” Amron’s claims.

Amrom stated that he was disappointed and that “it’s not surprising that big money beat little money.”

3M’s Story

According to 3M, the Post-it Note was invented in 1974, when 3M employee Art Fry was singing in his church choir. The paper Fry was using as a bookmark fell out of his hymnal. Fry recalled an adhesive that was developed by 3M scientist Spencer Silver and how it could be used to create a better bookmark.

3M stated, “3M developed Post-it Notes without any input or inspiration from Mr. Amron and it is false and misleading for him to state or suggest that he created, invented, or had any role in the product’s development.” The company also notes that “the only inventors of Post-it Notes, Spencer Silver and Art Fry, were inducted into the National Inventors’ Hall of Fame at the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2010.”

Amron’s Story

According to Amron, he was the first to come up with a practical way of combining sticky glue and a note pad. He claims to have come up with the idea for a sticky note in 1973. Amran says that he was working in his garage and realized he was running late for an appointment, but needed to leave a message for his wife. He took the gum that he was chewing, kneaded it with some dust, stuck it on a piece of paper and stuck the note on his refrigerator.

Amron claims that he developed a product he called the “Press-on Memo” and that he sent samples of it to 3M in 1974. Amron says that 3M told him that it wasn’t interested, but then introduced its “Press ‘n’ Peel” memo pad in 1977, which it later renamed “Post-it Note.”

Amron’s First Lawsuit

Amron sued 3M in 1977, attempting to invalidate the 3M patents, seeking to recover royalties, and demanding a public apology. Amron claims that he settled the suit with the understanding that 3M would stop claiming to be Post-it’s inventor. Both parties agree that the terms of the confidential settlement do not specify who could claim to be the inventor of Post-it Notes. Amron claims that, at the time of the settlement, 3M led him to believe that a Swiss patent for a sticky note from 1968 proved that neither of them was the true inventor; however, he later realized that the Swiss patent wasn’t practical because that sticky note would leave a residue.

According to Cohn’s ruling, Amron accepted $12,000 in legal fees to resolve the first lawsuit in exchange to release 3M from all future claims.

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