Tag: black Super Soaker creator

Super Soaker Inventor Lonnie Johnson Takes Aim at Funding High School Robotics Teams

Discbots at FRC 2017 World Championships (photo via Facebook.com)

by Gabe Gutierrez via nbcnews.com

He created one of the most popular toys on the planet — but the inventor of the “Super Soaker” isn’t done making a splash. Lonnie Johnson is now focusing on new battery technology, but his most rewarding pursuit may be sharing his knowledge with a new generation of engineers.

The mild-mannered Johnson grew up in Mobile, Alabama at the height of the civil rights movement. “There was a lot of fear, a lot of anxiety, a lot of stress,” he remembered. “When I was a child the ‘White-only’ bathrooms were still very prevalent.” He turned that fear into motivation — and a career as a NASA rocket scientist.

But his “a-ha” moment came unexpectedly while he was designing a water pump. He had built testing the pump out in a bathroom when he noticed something.”I thought to myself, ‘Geez, this would make a neat water gun!'” he said. “At that point I decided to put my engineering hat on and design a high performance water gun.” That idea would change his life.

He built the first prototype for what became “The Super Soaker.” The toy, which first went on sale in the early 1990’s, eventually topped $1 billion in sales. Johnson also went on to come up with the NERF gun and other toys. “It’s interesting that the Super Soaker gets so much attention,” he said. “I really like to think of myself as a serious engineer!”

Now, he’s getting serious about giving back. His nonprofit helps fund high school robotics teams. One of them — the DISCbots from the DeKalb International Student Center — is made up of refugees from nine countries. Kalombo Mukuca fled the Central African Republic a year ago. “Even babies — they kill them,” he said. “So we don’t want to get killed.” Emanuel Tezera came to the United States from Ethiopia. “I want to fix something in this world,” he said.

Incredibly, in just its second year, the DISCbots qualified for the world-wide robotics competition in Texas. For Johnson, this idea may be his most rewarding. “If I can have a positive impact,” he said, “clearly it’s something I want to do.”

Source: Super Soaker Inventor Takes Aim at Funding High School Robotics Teams – NBC News

Super Soaker Creator Lonnie Johnson Awarded $72.9M from Hasbro

Super Soaker Creator Lonnie Johnson
Super Soaker Creator Lonnie Johnson

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.  Johnson could not be reached for comment Wednesday, nor could Pawtucket, RI.-based 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.

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.”  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 2012.

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