We found this story of yet another case of a major corporation trying to pull a
fast one on someone's intellectual property. This time it was Lonnie
Johnson, a black doctor, scientist, inventor and entrepreneur who created
the wildly popular Super Soaker toy gun. He was awarded $72.9 million in
unpaid royalties from Hasbro Inc., who produced derivitives of the toy gun
but withheld Lonnie's share according to the law firm King & Spalding.
Johnson’s company, Johnson Research and Development, filed a lawsuit
against Hasbro for underpaid royalties in the sales of the water gun
according to media reports. He was awarded everything he asked for during
the arbitration hearing. Johnson founded the Super Soaker water gun in 1989
and in the first two years cleared more than $200 million in retail sales two
years later, the company said. The toy was licensed to Larami Corp., which
was later purchased by Hasbro.
The arbitration agreement resolves a 2001 inventors dispute in which Hasbro agreed
to pay Johnson royalties for products covered by his Nerf line of toys, specifically the
N-Strike and Dart Tag brands, King & Spalding attorney Ben Easterlin said. Hasbro
was nailed legally for not living up to that agreement.
In fact, Hasbro tried to swindle Johnson in another devious way.
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.”
But Hasbro sold water guns that were “visually similar and based upon the appearance
of Super Soaker water guns that incorporate Johnson’s technology” without giving Johnson
his cut of the profits. Johnson also wanted the court to force Hasbro to open its books to
determine sales of Super Soaker products from 2006 to 2012.
Johnson’s genius is legendary. He is a nuclear engineer, a Tuskegee University
Ph.D., and a former NASA scientist in addition to being the founder of Johnson Research
and Development. Johnson boasts more than 80 patents, with more than 20 pending, the
company said, and the sales of the Super Soaker have approached nearly $1 billion. His
inventions have included rechargeable battery technology and thermodynamic energy
Source: Rolling Out