Fidget Spinners: A Lesson in the Importance of Intellectual Property

Fidget spinner

If you had invented a simple plastic toy that became a playground craze and was clocking up worldwide sales in the tens of millions, you might think you’d be jumping for joy. Catherine Hettinger invented the Fidget Spinner back in the 1990s, but she let her patent lapse in 2005 – 12 years before it became the must-have toy of 2017.


The Rise of the Fidget Spinner

The Fidget Spinner is a small plastic toy comprised of a central hub and either two or three plastic protrusions weighted with ball-bearings which spin in a pleasing manner when flicked. The owner can then learn tricks which mostly consist of transferring the spinner between fingers and hands in increasingly complex ways. Hettinger invented the toy and spent a few years breaking even on her manufacturing costs by selling them at craft fairs. A deal for mass manufacture with toy giant Hasbro fell through and she let her patent on the toy lapse when she couldn’t afford the $400 renewal.

A Tool for Concentration

Hettinger marketed her spinner as a tool to aid concentration. It was especially successful with people on the autism spectrum. Some people with autism find busy, noisy environments upsetting and the spinners gave them a distracting alternative focus that many found calming. Since the spinners have crossed over to the mainstream, they have been banned from many school classrooms for causing unwanted distraction.


Intellectual Property

Your idea is valuable. If you don’t protect it or, as in this case, you let your protection lapse, someone else will make money out of it. At Coda Plastics Ltd, we work with registered patent attorneys who will make sure that your intellectual property rights are protected. Here are three types of protection available in the UK:

  • Design Registration: Registering your design gives you some protection if another company attempts to copy your product.
  • Patent Registration: Registering a patent is the correct procedure for anyone who has developed a completely new product. If you have merely modified an existing idea, you will not get a patent.
  • Trademark Protection: Getting your brand trademarked stops imitators from using the name of your product.

Do you think that you could have the design for the next toy craze to hit the playground? If so, we would like to hear from you. Our product development team will help you get your concept realised in plastic. To set up a meeting, call us on +44 1692 501020 or email

Share videos of your best Fidget Spinner tricks with us on Twitter.

< Previous Post Next Post >