Alan Amron, the inventor who claims 3M Company stole his idea for the post-it note, has asked a federal court in Palm Beach, Florida overseeing his $400 million defamation case against the conglomerate to hold a hearing on accusations that 3M attorneys contacted his ex-wife seeking damaging or embarrassing information about him and that 3M was willing to pay for such information.
Amron filed the action in U.S. District Court in Palm Beach, Florida, in January seeking an admission from 3M that Amron invented the post-it note even though he failed to patent his invention and 3M actually patented the adhesive that made the Post-It Note effective.
The complaint, which also names 3M employees Arthur Fry and Spencer Silver, filed before U.S. District Court Judge James Cohn, alleges that Amron has been defamed by 3M’s continued claim that its employees were the original inventors of the Post-It-Note. Amron is representing himself in the complaint. Amron alleges that he invented the Press-On Memo in 1973 after leaving a note to his wife affixed to the refrigerator with a partial piece of Wrigley’s Spearmint gum.
He furthers claims that two representatives of 3M visited a booth he set up at a trade show in 1974 to showcase his Press-On Memo and battery-operated water gun inventions and asked him for information on his invention. Allegedly they later told him 3M wasn’t interested in his invention.
Now, Amron is alleging that 3M attorneys tried to discredit him by offering to pay his ex-wife Eileen M. Amron for damaging or embarrassing information, based on a sworn affidavit by an attorney in a separate case in Florida State Court in Miami.
In a Sept. 6 motion requesting a hearing, Amron alleges that it wasn’t until Sept. 2, in the unrelated Miami Family Court matter, that he “was first made aware of certain extremely damaging accusations made against the Defendant 3M Company, that could greatly effect the outcome of this District Court declaratory judgment and defamation case.”
According to the motion, an attorney with knowledge, has filed a sworn affidavit in the state court stating in part that attorneys for 3M had reached out to Eileen L. Amron, asking if she has any damaging and/or embarrassing information regarding Mr. Amron. The unnamed attorney also said the 3M attorneys had told her they would be willing to pay her for any information she could provide.
Amron couldn’t be reached for comment on the identity of the attorney who signed the sworn affidavit or if his wife told them anything.
In the motion, Amron “requests a hearing before the judge in this case, to see how best legally, procedurally and fairly to ‘investigate’ this most serious of ethical and professional responsibility ‘accusations’ made against Defendants' 3M Company counsel.”
Amron noted in the motion that he has conferred with 3M’s counsel on the matter and that they have denied the allegations.
According to an email cited in Amron’s motion, Romance, a partner with Richman Greer PA in Miami, and Aaron D. Van Oort and Tyler Young, partners with the law firm of Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, in Minneapolis, denied “that any 3M attorney or other authorized representative has contacted your wife or made any of the statements set out in your email.”
“We are very concerned about the allegations set forth in your email and we request that you immediately provide to us a copy of the sworn court document you refer to in your email so that we can investigate who is claiming to represent 3M and making the statements indicated in your email, so that we can take appropriate action.”
Romance directed The Patent Investor to a motion from 3M and its counsel filed Sept. 7 in which they expressed the desire to "join in Plaintiff’s request for a hearing, at which time Defendants expect that Plaintiff will provide more information about the statements and will furnish the Court and Defendants with a copy of the purported affidavit. Once Defense counsel have obtained additional information and the purported affidavit, 3M will be able to commence an investigation."
The motion said "3M and its counsel take such accusations very seriously."
The motion also that 3M would like to receive information from Amron about the allegations to allow it to investigate the matter, including a copy of the affidavit.
"Plaintiff has refused to provide a copy of the purported affidavit or any further information about the allegations, including the name of the individual he claims signed the purported affiant. Defense counsel has reviewed the state court docket in which the affidavit was purportedly filed and have not been able to identify any corresponding entries."
Judge Cohn set a twelve-month schedule for the case, with fact discovery closing on October 7 and trial beginning on January 9, 2017.
In response to 3M’s motions to dismiss, Amron amended his complaint on March 3 and again on May 6. 3M moved to dismiss the second amended complaint on June 20. That motion is awaiting a decision.
Also on June 20, Amron moved for summary judgment. Judge Cohn extended 3M’s deadline to respond to Amron’s summary judgment motion until November 4, 2016.
—To reach the reporter responsible for this story, please contact Dan Lonkevich at 707 318-7899 or firstname.lastname@example.org