Theatrical release poster

The story focuses on Robert Kearns (played by Greg Kinnear) and his legal battle against the Ford Motor Company after they developed an intermittent windshield wiper based on ideas the inventor had patented.

- Flash of Genius (film)

Kearns's legal battle against Ford to protect his invention and patent was the subject of a 1993 article in The New Yorker magazine, which became the basis for a full-length biographical feature film titled Flash of Genius in 2008.

- Robert Kearns
Theatrical release poster

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Overall

Windscreen wiper on a parked car. In this common design, the force from the arm is distributed evenly with a series linkages known as a whippletree.

Windscreen wiper

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Device used to remove rain, snow, ice, washer fluid, water, or debris from a vehicle's front window.

Device used to remove rain, snow, ice, washer fluid, water, or debris from a vehicle's front window.

Windscreen wiper on a parked car. In this common design, the force from the arm is distributed evenly with a series linkages known as a whippletree.
A common windshield wiper arm and blade
Capwell, 1898
Anderson's 1903 window cleaner design
Douglass's 1903 locomotive cab window cleaner
Apjohn's 1903 window cleaning apparatus design
Pneumatic motor drive on a railroad locomotive windscreen wiper. The lever on the motor operates a valve to supply pressurized air.
Illustration showing the construction of multi-branched windshield wiper blade holder
Windscreen wiper arms and blades on a 1954 DKW-IFA F8 "Luxuscabriolet" from East Germany, using a simple radial design with no visible linkages
Lever mechanism of a windscreen wiper. The motor in the middle converts the circular rotation to an intermittent rotation. The lever arms have different lengths, so the stop position at the reverse point is different.
Simple parallelogram linkages on a boat windscreen
This 1974 Mercedes-Benz 220D uses oppositely-pivoted wiper blades. (Fig. 2)
Pantograph windscreen wipers (Fig. 6) used on Mercedes-Benz O 405 NH
Triple windshield wipers (Fig.7) used on a DAF XF truck
A V3A tram using a wiper geometry like Fig. 6, but uses a single wiper instead of two
Toyota Yaris with large single wiper
Windscreen washer in operation
Clear view screen provides a window of visibility, even in rough seas
Fig. 1: Most common geometry, found on vast majority of vehicles, mainly LHD cars; RHD Mercedes-Benz W140 and some earlier British cars
Fig. 2: Widely used alternative configuration suiting either LHD or RHD operation{{refn|Buick Verano, Mercedes-Benz W114, W168, W169, W245, W414 and W639, Smart Fortwo (1998-2015), Volkswagen Golf Plus, Volkswagen Sharan I/SEAT Alhambra I, Volkswagen Touran (some models until 2011), Datsun 510 (1968 only), Mitsubishi Delica, Mitsubishi Grandis, Honda Civic (2005–2011), Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme (5th Generation), some minivans, some buses, Peugeot 307, Peugeot 308 (2007-2013), Peugeot 407, Peugeot 508, Peugeot 3008, Peugeot 5008, Peugeot RCZ, Ford Focus (third generation), Ford Mondeo (fourth generation), Ford B-Max, Ford C-Max (second generation), Ford S-Max, Ford Galaxy, Ford Kuga (second generation), Ford Transit Connect (second generation), Ford Transit Custom, Citroën C4, Citroën Xsara Picasso, Citroën C4 Picasso, Citroën C5 II, Citroën C6, Citroën C8/Fiat Ulysse II/Lancia Phedra/Peugeot 807, DS 4, DS 5, BMW i3, BMW i8, Opel Meriva, Opel Zafira, Opel Astra J, Opel Cascada, Chevrolet Volt/Opel Ampera, Renault Scénic III, Renault Espace (2002–present), Renault Vel Satis, Plymouth Voyager/Dodge Caravan/Chrysler Voyager/Chrysler Town & Country, Mazda MPV, some first generation Toyota Previas, third generation Kia Carens |group=lower-alpha}}
Fig. 3: SEAT Altea, SEAT León II, SEAT Toledo III
Fig. 4: Simple-arc single-blade system, used on the VAZ-1111 Oka, Fiat Panda I/SEAT Marbella, Fiat Uno, Citroën AX, Citroën BX, Citroën ZX, SEAT Ibiza I and 1986-2003 Jaguar XJs
Fig. 5: Complex- or eccentric-arc system, used on the Subaru XT as well as the Mercedes-Benz W124, R129, W201, W202, C208 and W210; eccentric design used for passenger wiper on most late-model Mercedes-Benzes
Fig. 6: Pantograph system, used on some buses (e.g. Mercedes-Benz O305), some school buses, some trolleybuses (e.g. Ikarus 415T and ZiU-9), some trains (e.g. IE 29000 Class) and the Kenworth T600 as well as the rear wiper for the Honda CR-X Si and the Porsche 928 and for the driver's side of the Triumph TR7
Fig. 7: MAN, MAZ, ROMAN, DAF XF, Hino 700, Mitsubishi Fuso Super Great, UD Quon, UD Quester, Škoda 14Tr, Toyota FJ Cruiser, Jaguar E-Type, MGB, MG Midget, Austin Healey Sprite (a 1968 US-only ruling required a certain percentage of the windscreen to be wiped).
Fig. 8: Obsolete design, found on some older firetrucks and utility vehicles, some school buses; same design on single windscreen for Jeep Wrangler YJ
Fig. 9: US military wheeled vehicles, jeepneys, some school buses and utility vehicles, Hummer H1 and HUMVEE
Fig. 10: Like Fig. 1 but mirror-reversed, mainly seen on RHD cars, LHD Mercedes-Benz W140

In 1963, another form of intermittent wiper was invented by Robert Kearns, an engineering professor at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.

Kearns sued Ford in a multi-year patent dispute that Kearns eventually won in court, inspiring the 2009 feature film Flash of Genius based on a 1993 New Yorker article that covered the legal battle.

Kinnear at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival

Greg Kinnear

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American actor, producer and television personality.

American actor, producer and television personality.

Kinnear at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival

In 2008, he starred in Flash of Genius, a docudrama about Robert Kearns who invented the intermittent windshield wiper.