Doubt Cast Over Claimed Inventor of Fidget Spinner, the Popular Toy Craze

Catherine Hettinger says she's the inventor, but patent data suggests otherwise.

May 12, 2017 9:08 am

The women who claims to have invented the fidget spinner, a wildly popular toy, may not have created the entrancing—or aggravating—fad after all.

Multiple media outlets—such as the New York Times, Guardian, and RealClearLife—reported that Catherine Hettinger held the patent on the toy until a lapse in payment a few years before it found success. As the fidget spinners’ popularity went viral, so did this tale.

However, several patent lawyers have now challenged Hettinger’s claim. The patent she was granted in 1997 was for a “spinning toy” that’s described as shaped like the U.S. Capitol building. Other than the motion, the spinners today bear little resemblance.

Experts said Hettinger’s 1997 patent wouldn’t cover the fidget spinners even if she had kept paying to renew it after 2005.

Despite multiple interviews and a Kickstarter campaign for her next product in which she claims to be the “original inventor,” Hettinger doesn’t disagree with the experts when Bloomberg Technology asked her about it. “Let’s just say that I’m claimed to be the inventor,” she said.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.