Robert Kearns and the intermittant windshield wiper 

Robert Kearns claims that he invented the intermittant windshield wiper (in 1967) and that all automakers installing this device should pay him for use of his patent. He settled with Ford and Chrysler, but recently had the suit dismissed against GM and all foreign automakers. He claims he will refile.

In 1967, Kearns installed intermittant windshield wipers in a 1962 Ford Galaxy, which he then demonstrated for Ford. After asking numerous question about Kearns design, Ford proceeded to offer the intermittant windshield wiper option under its own patents in 1969.

Kearns proceeded to file suit aginst Ford, Chrysler, and 19 other automakers for infringing on his patent. The suit against Ford eventually settled for $10.2 million November of 1990. Kearns won a verdict for $11.3 million against Chrysler, Chrysler appealed and lost, but in the end Kearns collects very little of the verdict. The case took over 10 years and millions of dollars in legal fees to complete.

Kearn's lawsuit against foreign automakers was dismissed and the appeal denied in October of 1995, bringing Kearn's legal battle to a close.

  1. AP, "Inventor's Appeal Rejected by Court," The New York Times, Section D; Page 12; Column 6; Business/Financial Desk, October 3, 1995

  3. Reuters, "Chrysler Loses Patent Appeal," The New York Times, Section D; Page 4; Column 5; Business/Financial Desk, March 21, 1995

  5. Rosato, Donna, "Wiper Suit," USA TODAY, SECTION: MONEY; Pg. 1B, June 12, 1992

  7. Wire Reports, "Chrysler loses wiper lawsuit," USA TODAY, SECTION: MONEY; Pg. 2B, December 11, 1991

  9. AP, "A Windshield Wiper Inventor Settles Suit Against Ford," The New York Times, Section D; Page 2; Column 1; Financial Desk, November 15, 1990