Intermittent Windshield Wipers

Intermittent Windshield Wipers

The inventor of intermittent windshield wipers tried to sell his idea to the auto industry and was turned away.

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Robert W. Kearns, the inventor of intermittent windshield wipers, who won multimillion-dollar judgments against Ford Motor and Chrysler for using his idea, died at his home in suburban Baltimore. He was 77.

The cause was cancer.

Mr. Kearns, a onetime Wayne State University professor, received numerous patents in 1967 for his design for wipers that pause between swipes for use in very light rain or mist. The invention permits the driver to set the interval at which the wiper sweeps the window.

He tried to interest various automakers in his invention but did not reach a licensing deal with any of them.

But carmakers eventually began offering intermittent wipers.

Mr. Kearns sued the Ford Motor Company in 1978 and Chrysler in 1982, accusing them of patent infringement.

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