Alan Amron
Alan Amron


An inventor who says he has more than 35 patents to his name is reopening a battle with a major company over who truly invented an everyday product.

It’s the Post-it note. And the origins of this fight date back more than 40 years.

Alan Amron claims that he, and not Minnesota-based 3M, invented the original sticky note, in a new lawsuit he filed in the US District Court in Florida Tuesday.

The lawsuit calls for at least $400 million in damages from 3M.

Amron claims that, in 1973, he invented the sticky note and called it the Press-on memo. He says he then showed two 3M stationery executives samples of the notes in 1974 at an invention trade show in New York City.

Three years later, in 1977, 3M introduced the Press n’ peel sticky notes and reintroduced them in 1980 as Post-it notes.

Amron says that it was in 1997 that he first heard 3M was claiming to have invented the product, and he later sued it the same year. The case was settled a month later, and Amron said that part of the agreement was that 3M would no longer say it invented the sticky note. The company would also pay him for his legal fees, according to Amron.

Fast-forward to 2011, and Amron heard that 3M was again claiming ownership of the product. He didn’t sue until this week, fearing the statute of limitations would expire.

3M told Business Insider the claim is bogus.

“That’s not true,” said 3M spokeswoman Donna Fleming Runyon. “In the settlement in 1998 there was no admission by 3M that the claims were true. And, there was never an agreement. We did not agree. There was no limit on 3M’s ability to talk about the origin of the Post-it- note.”

She said 3M had filed the patent on the adhesive back in 1970, three years before Amron said he conceptualized the sticky note.

3M did pay Amron a fee to cover his legal fees, she added.

The 3M employees credited with inventing the sticky note are Spencer Silver and Art Fry. Silver is credited with inventing the adhesive used on sticky notes in 1968, which 3M had patented in 1970, according to Runyon.

Fry, while at a church service in 1974, claimed to have realized the adhesive Silver told him about would be perfect for a bookmark he was using in a hymnal book.

“I was able to make rudimentary bookmarks at that time and discovered that they weren’t just bookmarks, but they were self-attaching notes,” he told NPR. “We could make labels out of them.”

As reported by Business Insider