The inventor of the Nerf Super Soaker finally received a settlement from Hasbro.
Former NASA engineer and Johnson Research and Development founder Lonnie Johnson filed a lawsuit against the toy company several years ago over unpaid royalties. After battling is out in court for the better part of a decade, the Super Soaker inventor walked away with a hefty check for approximately $73 million.
According to Yahoo! Finance, Johnson originally licensed the popular water gun to Larami Corporation in the late 1980s. However, the company was later acquired by the folks at Hasbro. It didn’t take very long for the Super Soaker to become a very popular item with children and the young at heart.
The toy sold an amazing $200 million during the first two years on retail shelves. At present, the line has reportedly sold upwards of $1 billion. Not surprisingly, Johnson was very interested in getting his fair share of the cash from Hasbro. The dispute over royalties eventually landed them in court.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said of lawsuit:
“In a separate breach of contract suit filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta in February, Johnson accuses Hasbro of violating a 1996 agreement to pay him Super Soaker royalties of 2 percent for ‘three-dimensional products’ based on the appearance of the toy and 1 percent for ‘two-dimensional visual representations.’ The suit says Hasbro sold water guns that were ‘visually similar and based upon the appearance of Super Soaker water guns that incorporate Johnson’s technology.'”
UPI reports that Johnson, a nuclear engineer with a Ph.D. from Tuskegee University, developed and licensed the Super Soaker back in 1989. Although the toy was an instant hit, Johnson didn’t receive any royalty payments from Hasbro. In addition to the 80 patents he already has under his belt, the inventor has 20 more pending as of this writing.
The law fire King and Spalding, along with A. Leigh Baier, represented Johnson during his lengthy quest to receive royalty payments from Hasbro. Baier said his client was understandably excited about the recent settlement.
“In the arbitration we got everything we asked for. The arbitrator ruled totally in Lonnie’s favor,” Johnson’s attorney recently explained.
Although Johnson is clearly satisfied with the recent ruling, representatives for Hasbro have yet to weigh in on the matter. Since the company made roughly $1 billion from sales of the toy, $73 million seems like a drop in the financial bucket.
What do you think about Super Soaker inventor and former NASA engineer Lonnie Johnson finally getting royalty payments for his iconic creation?
[Image via Nerf Toys / Hasbro]