Lonnie Johnson, the mastermind behind the Super Soaker water gun, has been shortchanged by Hasbro on royalties for five years. Fortunately for Johnson, he came out victorious in the dispute and was awarded a whopping $73 million settlement, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports [h/t HipHopWired].
Johnson, a rocket scientist who works for NASA as nuclear engineer, is the founder of Johnson Research and Development Co., an Atlanta-based research and development company behind the Super Soaker and other Nerf toy guns. “He holds nearly 100 patents for his inventions and his background includes serving in the Air Force,” HipHopWired adds.
Johnson created the popular water gun back in 1982, the Super Soaker gained heightened visibility after Michael Jackson called it his favorite toy. In 1991, the Super Soaker, which was sold under the Larami Corporation, “generated over $200 million in retail sales and became the best selling toy in America,” according to Wikipedia. Hasbro then purchased the Larami Corporation — but since then, Johnson has had issues with the popular toymaker. Fed up with Hasbro’s games, Johnson filed a suit in February.
“After toymaker giant, Hasbro purchased all licensing for the historic water gun, contractal disputes arose. It was alleged that Hasbro skimmed out on royalty payments for five years, ranging between 2007-2012,” HipHopWired notes. Johnson also sued Hasbro for violating a 1996 agreement to pay the inventor “royalties of 2 percent for ‘three-dimensional products’ based on the appearance of the [Super Soaker] and 1 percent for ‘two-dimensional visual representations,’” AJC explains.
Lastly, Johnson accused Hasbro of selling water guns that were too similar to his invention and incorporated his own technology. The arbitrator ruled in favor of Johnson and forced Hasbro to pay him $72.9 million in unpaid royalties.
Johnson’s multi-million dollar toy isn’t his only brilliant invention. The Tuskegee University alumni, who holds a PhD, has also created “ rechargeable battery technology and thermodynamic energy conversion technology,” AJC concludes.