Sunday, April 4, 2021

Sad Story

I was reading about Jagdish Chandra Bose.  He was a biologist, physicist, and botanist.  He had so many discoveries.  But was disinterested in patenting and commercializing.  Therefore Mr. Bose never patented any of his discoveries.

I then remembered a very sad story.   Here it is.

Robert William Kearns (1927 to 2005).  He invented the intermittent wiper systems (popularly known as delayed wiper) for automobiles.  He filed for patent in December 1964.

Mr. Kearns approached the Big Three automakers, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler for licensing his technology.  All 3 rejected his proposal.  Yet, they started to install this delayed wiper system in their automobiles beginning 1969.

He filed a lawsuit against these 3 companies.  He was a poor man with no money to pay lawyers.  So, he acted as his own attorney.  Automobile companies had big name attorneys.  They dragged this case for many years.

Case against Ford Motor company lasted from 1978 to 1990.  He asked for $395 million.  Court awarded him $10.2 million.  Chrysler case lasted from 1982 to 1992.  Court awarded him $18.7 million.

Kearns filed lawsuits against Ford, Porsche, Volkswagen, Ferrari, Volvo, Alfa Romeo, Lotus, Isuzu, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Peugeot, Renault, Rolls Royce Motors, Saab, Toyota, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz.   Several cases were dismissed after Kearns missed deadlines in other filing papers. 

In fighting these cases, almost all his money was spent on legal fees.

Kearns died in 2005 as a poor man living in a one bed room flat.

His life was made into a movie Flash of Genius.

Let us assume if these automobile manufacturers were honest and paid him at least $1.00 per wiper.  Think for a minute how many cars were sold in this world from 1969 to date.  At an average of 50 million cars in a year, he would have earned $2.6 Billion.


  1. How sad.... human beings are greedy, not nice and are not nice when it comes to money. But I also believe in KARMA, no bad deed goes unpunished.....wish Mr Kearns had gotten his fair share and lead a better life....

  2. I think there ought to be some sort of a professional association (perhaps a group of scientists) that can help such people get what's due to them. I hope there are, now.

    Destination Infinity

  3. In business, there are no emotions or empathy.
    Kearns might have died a poor man, but he might have had peace of mind, which richness doesn't necessarily guarantee.

  4. Sad indeed. The world of business is ruthless and cruel too in some cases like this. The poor most often stand to lose.

  5. I am starting to feel more and more that current "system" is nothing but a rehash of feudal times. You really cannot do or own many things unless you are of "noble" origin in terms of resources and connections.

    1. Thanks for your comments Karunesh Long time no see. How are you doing? How is the family?

  6. Very sad. It seems that the present era is of selfishness and self-centeredness. No place for sympathy and empathy. Life is full of tension and hence dissatisfaction grips the youngsters in its clutches.
    A week back, a young bank manager committed suicide leaving her two darlings to destiny. as she couldn't accomplish the mountainous targets. Last year her husband had a cardiac arrest and passed away.
    The target and market competition is a virus, eating away the peace of the family.
    Nice post.

  7. Never knew about this... m sure the movie Flash of Genius made more money than what he was left with in the end.