Apparently in 1963 Robert W. Kearns had a lot of time on his hands. The 35 year old basement inventor decided to outfit his 1962 Ford Galaxie with what he called “blinking” wipers. He was generally enthusiastic about giving the product to Ford, until he spent long years tied up in product demonstrations.
Ford claimed they were already working on a pneumatic version of the mechanism, which substituted for what Kearns’s electrical device did.
Push came to shove and Kearns never got to supply his “blinking” wipers. He did manage to patent them. Fast forward to 1989 when the patent expired. Kearns has began to sue the manufacturers in 1978 but the litigation took too long.
Kearns is now seeking $50 restitution per vehicle from all manufacturers who used intermittent wipers in their vehicles for the period the patent was valid for. This will net Kearns billions of dollars and might put an even larger dent in the auto sector, which is already going through some financial hardship.
The manufacturers affected are Ford, GM, Chrysler, Mercedes, Porsche.
The first one to be tried in open court is Ford Motor Company, which seems to be the one that started all of this.
It will be interesting to see which manufacturer will end up owing how much and which one will go under as a result of these litigations. Maybe an insurance company will collapse. Who knows.