Catherine Hettinger has missed out on a million dollar fortune by missing a patent renewal payment, it has been confirmed this week.
Catherine, the Florida-based inventor, came up with the idea of the ‘fidget spinner’ in the 1980s to keep her daughter – and other children alike – occupied. She was inspired to find a less destructive solution by young boys she once saw throwing rocks at people as a distraction, she told Time Magazine.
Thirty years later, the toy has finally taken off and is sold by dozens of large toy companies around the world. Hettinger, however, is not seeing a penny of the profit, and most likely never will. Hettinger had to give up the patent in 2005 after eight years due to not being able to afford the $400 renewal fee. Fidget spinners sales brought in revenue totaling $2.6 million last month, and one toy manufacturer told the paper that they are seeing 200 orders an hour for the catchy toys.
Hettinger filed for a patent in 1993 and eventually secured it from the U.S. Patent and Trademark office four years later, according to documents. She went to toy fairs selling the spinners, which she described in her patent application as “to provide enjoyment and entertainment for adults and children,” but only sold a few thousand, Time reported. After numerous attempts at pitching to toy companies with no success, she decided to let the patent lapse and companies jumped at the chance to create the toy for themselves.
Hasbro is now a large creator of the toys, whom she also pitched the idea too many years ago. Hettinger was thrilled when Hasbro took on the idea for testing, but the company eventually cast it aside before making a commercial product, according to Time.
Interestingly, Hettinger is not dissapointed she missed out on the idea and is instead happy that children with autism and short attention spans will ba able to excel in their lives with help from her original idea.
“Several people have asked me: ‘Aren’t you really mad?’ But for me I’m just pleased that something I designed is something that people understand and really works for them,” she also told the Guardian.