Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, now known as 3M, was founded in 1902 and has been seen as a pioneer in its industry ever since. For this reason, it may have surprised some in the industry when Avery Dennison filed business litigation against 3M alleging antitrust violations and patent infringement. That litigation has since been resolved.
The controversy centered around 3M's retroreflective sheeting products. This product is used for "traffic control products" such as pavement markings and traffic signs. 3M has been producing the retroreflective sheeting products for about 60 years. During that time, the company has diligently worked to improve its product in order to help make the roads safer.
3M has been able to grow its business to the point where 70 countries are home to its manufacturing operations. 3M has always worked to increase its marketability and earning power. One main way the company does this is with its every evolving research and development efforts.
Avery Dennison had not been able to convince a jury that 3M was doing anything wrong and even upheld 3M's patents. All of the allegations in that lawsuit were dismissed. The Minnesota based company was once again free to use their patented technology for the manufacturing of its products.
Anytime a company develops or improves a product, the possibility exists that the company can end up being involved in business litigation such as this. In most industries, competition can be fierce, and any advantage would be helpful. Making sure that patents and copyrights are properly filed may help reduce the possibility of litigation. However, there may be times when a company will be forced to prove and protect those patents and copyrights. Having the right advice and assistance in doing that may help ensure success in court.
Source: nasdaq.com, "3M Settles Lawsuit with Avery Dennison," April 1, 2013