ATLANTA (CN) – The man who invented the Super Soaker claims in court that Hasbro owes him royalties for the water gun.
Johnson Research and Development Co. sued Hasbro for breach of contract, in Federal Court. More than 200 million of the toys have been sold, according to industry publications, but this complaint does not cover all of them.
Johnson Research and Development is owned by Lonnie G. Johnson, inventor of the Super Soaker.
Johnson claims Hasbro owes him 2 percent royalties on sales of all “three-dimensional products” based on the Super Soaker, and 1 percent on all “two-dimensional representations” of it.
The complaint states: “Super Soaker water guns developed by Mr. Johnson are manufactured and sold by Hasbro pursuant to an August 1, 1989 license agreement entered into between Johnson’s predecessor in interest, Lonnie G. Johnson Engineering Company, and Hasbro’s predecessor in interest, Larami Corporation. Johnson and Hasbro have assumed all rights and obligations set forth in this license agreement.
“In exchange for the right to manufacture and sell the Super Soaker water guns developed by Johnson, Hasbro is required to pay Johnson specified royalty payments under the license agreement.”
Johnson sued Hasbro in 1995, claiming the toy company had stopped paying royalties. They settled in 1997. Johnson cites paragraph 7 of the settlement agreement in his new complaint: “‘Commencing January 1, 1996 [Hasbro] agrees to pay Johnson a royalty in the amount of 2 percent for three-dimensional products which are based upon the appearance of a current or past licensed item. Commencing January 1, 1996, [Hasbro] also agrees to pay a royalty in the amount of 1 percent for two-dimensional visual representations based upon the appearance of a current or past licensed item. … The parties agree that the highest royalty applicable to the licensed item shall be paid.'” (Brackets, but not ellipsis, in complaint.”
Johnson claims: “Hasbro has sold and continues to sell Super Soaker water guns that are visually similar and based upon the appearance of Super Soaker water guns that incorporate Johnson’s technology.
“In violation of paragraph 7 of the settlement agreement, Hasbro has refused to pay royalties to Johnson for the Super Soaker water guns that are based upon the appearance of the licensed items.”
Johnson’s company seeks unpaid royalties, damages breach of contract, and an injunction forcing Hasbro to hand over financial statements documenting sales from 2006 to 2012.
More than 200 million Super Soakers were sold in the toy’s first 10 years, according to a rather comprehensive history of the gizmo on mentalfloss.com. The article describes Johnson as a former NASA engineer.
Johnson is represented by Jonathan Letzring, with King and Spalding.
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