National Obituary Review

Dead Person of the Day February 8 – Robert Kearns

0 Comments 09 February 2012


Fascinating DPD today! It’s a classic case of the little man taking on The Man – which in this case were two of America’s biggest automakers at the time (Chrysler & Ford).  The business here has to do with windshield wipers, how fast they go back and forth, an errant corkscrew, and the U.S. Court of Appeals interpretation of the term ‘invention’.

Before Mr. Kearns automakers made windshield wipers with two speeds – on and off.  Due to a cork screw in the eye on his wedding night in 1953 he was close to blind in one of his eyes. Over time Kearns found that driving in heavy rain was very distracting and dangerous in heavy rain for a person with his condition. So, Kearns sought to make the rhythm of the windshield wiper much more in tune with the human eye which blinks every 3-4 seconds. He developed the intermittent wiper technology almost a decade later.

He pitched his idea to the big American car companies and they laughed him out of the room. Much to Kearns’ chagrin he started seeing his exact invention on Chrysler and Ford cars. So he took Ford to court in 1978 and Chrysler to court in 1982.

What transpired is a nod to our great legal system in the good ole’ U.S. of A. Don’t take my word for it though, embark on a journey to the obit-o-sphere!

Lets do it!

Robert Kearns, 77, Inventor of Intermittent Wipers, Dies

DETROIT, Feb. 25 (AP) – Robert W. Kearns, the inventor of intermittent windshield wipers, who won multimillion-dollar judgments against Ford Motor and Chrysler for using his idea, died on Feb. 9 at his home in suburban Baltimore. He was 77. Continue

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