The former NASA scientist who invented the Super Soaker and Nerf toy lines scored what may be described as an astronomical payday following a lawsuit with Hasbro over the Nerf toy line, reportedly forcing the popular toymaker to sputter out US$72,900,000 in royalties.
The lawsuit alleged that Hasbro underpaid royalties associated with the sales of Nerf products (specifically the N-Strike and Dart Tag brands) from 2007 to 2012. Judges apparently agreed, awarding Lonnie Johnson and his company (the Atlanta-based Johnson Research and Development Co.) nearly seventy-three million dollars. “In the arbitration we got everything we asked for,” said Atlanta attorney Leigh Baier. “The arbitrator ruled totally in Lonnie’s favor.”
Personally I’m amazed by Johnson’s background and flabbergasted that companies will market cold medicine as being “invented by a teacher” yet Hasbro fails to market Nerf guns and Super Soakers as having been invented by a former NASA scientist because that is some serious street cred. Johnson seems like something of a savant, having eighty patents to his name in addition to an impressive educational background. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Johnson, a nuclear engineer, Tuskegee University Ph.D. and former NASA scientist, founded his company in 1989. It was the same year he first licensed the Super Soaker, which generated 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.”
Johnson’s career as an inventor apparently started early, when “as an Alabama high school senior, Johnson finished building a remote-controlled robot with a reel-to-reel tape player for a brain and jukebox solenoids controlling its pneumatic limbs”. After graduating from Tuskegee University in Alabama, Johnson “joined the Air Force, worked at the Air Force Weapons Laboratory at Sandia, worked for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab on the Galileo mission to Jupiter and the Mars Observer project, among others. He also helped design the Cassini robot probe that flew 740 million miles to Saturn”.
I suppose it just goes to show that if you buckle down, get a good education, work hard, and put a little time in NASA (doing incredible things in the process) — you know, just paying your dues and working your way up (we all have to start somewhere, right?) — then you can make it big by inventing a wildly successful bunch of toy brands and become a multimillionaire. But seriously, this story is mind-boggling awesome and gives me a greater appreciation for these toy brands as a result.
The story doesn’t end here either. Apparently Johnson has also sued Hasbro over Super Soaker royalties. According to the AJC: “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.'” When that ends, I may be able to run a story entitled, “Lawsuit leaves Hasbro drenched”.
[ Atlanta Journal-Constitution, via Yahoo! Finance ]
Reblogged 5 years ago from www.tomopop.com