Ford's Flash of PR Tackles "Flash of Genius" Fallout

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

“The film ‘Flash of Genius’ chronicles the life story of Bob Kearns, who asserted that he invented the intermittent windshield wiper and sued Ford, Chrysler and other automakers for patent infringement. While films like ‘Flash of Genius’ are made for entertainment purposes, the facts are often less dramatic.

Bob Kearns as well as hundreds of engineers from many companies, including Ford, helped develop the intermittent wiper as part of an evolution of existing automotive and electronic components.

While there are inaccuracies in the film, Ford sees no value in re-hashing the history of a legal case that was resolved in court almost 20 years ago, when a jury ruled that Ford did not willfully violate Mr. Kearns’ patent.

Today, Ford continues to make engineering and design breakthroughs in areas such as fuel efficiency, safety and smart technology, and is proud of its 100-year legacy of innovation in automotive technology.”

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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4 of 11 comments
  • Seabrjim Seabrjim on Sep 30, 2008

    Cavendel, You must be kidding!

  • Robert Schwartz Robert Schwartz on Sep 30, 2008

    In the ad for the flick now showing on TV, the inventor is offered a $30 million settlement, and refuses it because Ford won't apologize. That is the single dumbest thing I ever heard of. No wonder he died broke and bitter. Take the money and run, always. Cash is the ultimate token of love.

  • Geeber Geeber on Sep 30, 2008

    Robert Schwartz, Judging from what I've read about the movie, a big part of the story is that he became obsessed with the case, and in the end, he "won" but it cost him his family and a big chunk of his life, and he never really enjoyed his victory. So refusing the $30 million settlement was to be expected, based on his obsession (assuming this is accurate).

  • Todorojo Todorojo on Oct 14, 2008

    The following are some snippets from this really good article "I don't think the goal was the magnitude of the money," Kearns said when the Ford case was ended. "What I saw (as) my role was to defend the patent system. If I don't go further, there really isn't a patent system." U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn, who presided over five of Kearns' trials, said Kearns was frustrated because he wanted to be a major manufacturer. "He was feisty, determined and he established the fact that he made a contribution to the auto industry that was unique," Cohn said. "His zeal got ahead of his judgment." Maureen Kearns said her father's home was filled with legal files. After a point, she said, "his life was simply this battle."