The Atlanta-based company behind the Super Soaker water gun and Nerf toy guns has been awarded nearly $73 million in royalties from toymaker Hasbro Inc., according to the law firm King & Spalding.
Johnson Research and Development Co. and founder Lonnie Johnson have been in a royalty dispute with Hasbro since February, when the company filed a claim against the giant toy company. According to King & Spalding, which along with the A. Leigh Baier P.C. law firm represented Johnson, Hasbro underpaid royalties for the Nerf line toys from 2007 to 2012.
“In the arbitration we got everything we asked for,” said Atlanta attorney Leigh Baier. “The arbitrator ruled totally in Lonnie’s favor.” The attorney also said Johnson “is very pleased” with the outcome.
The arbitration agreement resolves a 2001 inventor’s 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.
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.” Johnson also wanted the court to force Hasbro to open its books to determine sales of Super Soaker products from 2006 to 20012.
Johnson, a nuclear engineer, a 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.
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