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Lawsuit filed in Florida disputing inventor of Post-it Notes

We have discussed on this blog the many different reasons why it can be so crucial for companies to protect ownership of creations and inventions. These are often the backbone for businesses, driving sales and establishing a company's brand and reputation.

When these works are claimed or used by other parties without permission, it can lead to contentious and costly legal battles. This is the situation in which the 3M Company and a Florida inventor are currently involved. The dispute centers on who is named as the inventor of Post-it Notes.

According to reports, the 67-year-old inventor claims that back in 1973, he had developed a temporary adhesive for memo pages and briefly met with 3M executives that same year. 

A year later, two 3M workers developed the same type of product. Three years later, it was released on the market and a few years later, it was named the Post-it Note.

There are multiple issues being raised in the most recent lawsuit filed by the inventor in Fort Lauderdale. First, there is the matter of civil damages: The inventor is reportedly asking for $400 million. Second, there is the matter of ownership: The inventor wants 3M to publicly announce that he invented the sticky-backed memo, not the two men working for 3M. Finally, there is the issue that another lawsuit between the two parties was settled back in 1997.

It is this last point that is proving to be complicating the situation. Reports indicate that the terms of the first settlement specified that neither party would be permitted to claim ownership of the Post-it Notes. However, the inventor claims that since then, 3M has breached this part of their agreement. 

The two parties have been ordered to go through mediation in an effort to resolve this dispute, hopefully once and for all.

This case should remind readers that protecting creations and inventions is crucial, but it can be complicated, and issues can arise over time that require legal action. Readers might also want to make a note of how crucial it is not just to secure a fair settlement, but also to make sure the terms of that settlement are enforced over time.

Source: KRQE, "Sticky lawsuit: $400M dispute lingers of Post-it," March 13, 2016

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