3M is suing a small Kansas printer over a customized printed product marketed under the name “Stick-it,” claiming it violates the trademark of its well-known “Post-it” note enterprise.
In a lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, the Maplewood-based company claims the Stick-it product manufactured and sold by A’Deas Printing of Wichita, Kan., “is likely to cause confusion” among 3M’s customers and other consumers.
But the head of the printing company, Roth Christopherson, said the lawsuit is a classic case of an industrial giant going after a small player with limited resources to wage a legal battle.
“We’re very upset,” Christopherson said in an interview. “We’ll go at this to the nth degree, but it might put us out of business.”
In the suit, 3M notes that it has marketed note pads with the Post-it name for more than 30 years.
“The Post-it mark is inherently distinctive and serves to identify and indicate the source of 3M’s products and services to the consuming public,” the suit states.
3M is seeking unspecified damages in excess of $75,000, which is common language in federal civil suits. 3M also wants a permanent injunction prohibiting the Kansas company from using the Stick-it name.
Christopherson said his family-owned company of 10 employees has been selling Stick-it products since the 1990s and obtained a trademark for the brand in 2006.
The website of A’Deas Printing shows a line of products ranging from door hangers and brochures to business cards that are affixable to other surfaces.
Customers order the items with customized messages and information on them, while Post-it notes are often blank.
“The Stick-it product is why we got into business 16 years ago,” Christopherson said. “For a long time, we’ve been using that name, and it would hurt us badly if we had to change it now.”
But 3M asserts that A’Deas Printing is diluting 3M’s profits and enriching its own by capitalizing on the similarity of the Stick-it name to Post-it.
The Stick-it name “enables him to trade on and receive the benefit of goodwill built up at great labor and expense by 3M over many years,” the lawsuit contends.