3M Co. brass doesn't find much humor in the offbeat "Sticky Notes" peddled by the irreverent Unemployed Philosophers Guild of New York City. 3M says "Sticky Notes'' rips off the big Minnesota manufacturer's ubiquitous "Post-it" brand notes.

The Philosophers Guild, founded by two brothers in 1993, sells a variety of offbeat cards, notes, watches, mugs, shirts and other products through retail stores and online (www.upguild.com), including Jeez-its, Bush-its, Femin-its, Buddh-its and other Sticky Notes.

3M, alleging that its trademark has been knowingly infringed, its customers confused and its brand damaged, has filed suit in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, demanding that the philosophers knock it off and pay any related-product profits to 3M, as well as legal expenses.

"While we admire innovation in other companies, we vigorously and consistently protect and enforce [our] intellectual property and trademark rights,'' 3M said in a statement Friday.

Stephan Shaw, a co-owner of the Philosophers Guild, said last week that the products "are just funny sets of sticky notes that parody the various ideas and the ubiquity of Post-its. We've retained counsel in Minneapolis and New York. I guess I can only say that we disagree completely with [3M's] findings."

Shaw said he was an unemployed philosopher who got into business to "feed myself.'' And "business is good," he added.


Several big Minnesota companies have responded to the grass-roots famine-relief efforts for those caught between Somalia's never-ending civil war and the famine that has plagued the east African nation. Minneapolis-based American Refugee Committee (ARC) swung into action last year after dozens of Somali-owned small businesses, workers and students said they would launch grass-roots fundraisers at their shops and gatherings.

The program went viral with the Minneapolis-developed initiative, which has a website (www.iamastar.org) and 5,000 volunteers contributing to the relief effort -- from the Safari Restaurant in Minneapolis to Bono and other musicians and artists around the globe.

In recent weeks, Mosaic Co. put up $100,000, followed by a $100,000 grant to be matched by small donors through GiveMN.org. General Mills contributed $50,000 and another $50,000 to be matched. And Best Buy put down $100,000 and a $50,000 matching grant.

The campaign also includes a platform for sharing ideas that range from car washes to bake sales, dinners, concerts and lobbying of world leaders. The effort has been cited by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The donations and attention are helping fund the work of ARC medical and relief teams on the ground. The venerable Minneapolis-based nonprofit was not active in Somalia until approached by the Minnesota Somalia disapora last year.

"The famine is a very personal thing for the Somali community here, as so many have family and friends who were directly affected by the crisis on the ground in Somalia," said ARC CEO Daniel Wordsworth. "Minnesota's corporate community recognized this generosity and stepped forward to add their support."


•American manufacturers, a bright light of the tepid economic recovery, are optimistic about the future, hiring, increasing output and exporting more product, according to a McGladrey survey to be examined at the annual Minnesota Manufacturers Summit scheduled for Oct. 26 at the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel in Edina.

The single-day conference, sponsored by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, will hear from University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler on his goals for increased collaboration with technology and manufacturing industries; how two-year colleges in northeastern Minnesota are training students for tomorrow's jobs and the challenges ahead for manufacturers who generate nearly 20 percent of the state's economic output. More information: http: //business.mnchamber.com/Events/details/ minnesota-manufacturers-summit-2011

•The Minneapolis Downtown 100 program, which led to a 74 percent decrease in crime committed by the biggest repeat offenders, was recognized as one of the most innovative criminal justice programs in the land, according to the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Downtown 100 program, spearheaded by the Downtown Council and funded by its Downtown Improvement District members, coordinates police, prosecutors and probation officers, St. Stephen's Human Services and The Salvation Army to cut "livability crimes" that are the bane of downtown businesses and customers. The result is lower crime, a higher number of offenders on supervised probation, and an increase in the number of offenders who have gotten the assistance and housing they need, all of which leads to a safer downtown.