Flash of Genius (2008) Script

On the Maryland Giant, I'm the Fryman in the morning, and it's time for sports!

The Orioles continue to shoot skyward like a Saturn V.

Having locked up the pennant over a week ago, last night in Municipal Stadium in front of over 19,000.

Excuse me, sir. Can I speak with one of your passengers?

Sure. Go ahead. Go in back.

I'll go back there now. Thanks.

Robert Kearns?

Dr. Kearns?

Yes?

Sir, your family's very concerned about you.

Why don't you come with us?

The Vice President asked me to come to Washington.

Yes, sir, we understand.

You should come with us.

I suppose I could.

Hmm.

I'll take that for you.

Be careful.

That's for my kids.

Don't you worry, sir. We'll take good care of it.

Scott, you and Louise want to come to our place for dinner tonight?

Well, what about the Pistons game?

No, I gave my tickets to my kids.

Prices where they are, you gotta be kidding.

Hiya, Bob.

Hey. How's the teaching going?

Oh, good.

How many Kearns kids are there now? 13?

I can divine it. Oh, you can divine it.

What Scott here divines is that the Knicks have two guys out with ankle injuries, right, Bob?

Mmm. You talking about basketball?

Kearns, you probably mean that.

I do.

As I look out over this sea of familiar faces, I see men from G.M., A.M.C., Ford, Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge all under one roof, as it should be.

And it brings to mind the apostles.

What was it that brought these very different men together as one?

Father Rooney was good today, huh? He was funny.

He was great. He really was.

Can I pinch you?

No, dipshit. Mom, make him stop calling me...

What did you just say?

Dipstick. It's an automotive term, Mom.

Well, say that one more time and I will have your chassis waxed.

Okay? That's an automotive term, too.

Look at this.

I turn this thing off, 10 seconds later, I can't see.

I can't see, either.

So you turn it back on, and now the windshield's clean, but the wipers are dragging.

You hear that, that screeching? Mmm-hmm.

Yeah, I hear it, I hear it. Yeah, it's annoying.

All right, so it's raining and I turn it back off.

But now I can barely see.

I can't... I can't see anything, sweetie. I can't, either.

Sweetie, turn them on. Right now, I can't see a thing.

If I don't turn this thing on right now, we'll hit somebody.

Turn it on, honey. Please.

Look at this!

Okay, that's not funny at all.

Whoa. All right. All right. All right.

Ten thousand engineers in Detroit, you'd think they'd know how to design an automobile.

What are you doing?

Oh, I was thinking about how eyes work.

We blink about every four, six seconds, and there's this lachrymal fluid and...

Really?

Interesting.

And what are you thinking about?

I'm thinking we should make another kid.

Gotcha. Yeah.

Oh, that's good. You're funny.

I'm gonna be right back.

Huh? Huh? Yeah.


Spell "giant."

G-I... G-I-A-N-T. It's so easy.

Is your name Kathy? Is it your test? I don't think so.

It's Kathy's test. Kathy, what's the next one?

Puppy.

Puppy or science? Puppy's too easy. Do science.

Hi, poop. Okay. S-C-I-E-N-C-E.

Six minutes, you guys. Come on, let's really hustle.

S-C-I-E-N-C-E.

When is Calvin's sleepover?

Friday. I have to call his mom. Can I go...

"Police described the badly decomposed body..."

I don't think so today, sweetie. I don't know.

"...as one of the most gruesome crimes..." What time?

What is that? My current event.

I thought we agreed we weren't doing murders for a while.

Mom, what about after school?

Honey, good morning. Hey.

You tired? No, I'm fine.

What time did you come to bed?

I don't really know. Are you substituting today?

Yeah, fourth grade. Eat something.

No, no. I'll get something at school. That seems like a lot.

No, they called. It's at Pat's school, and so I can pick them up after anyway.

Well, who's gonna watch him? And I'm gonna take him to the...

Don't worry about it. Eat something, honey.

Okay. Hey.

Bye, kids. All right?

See you, Dad. Bye, Dad.

Bye, Dad. Don't use your wipers today.

Bob, what?

Yeah, I needed the motor.

Honey, what if it rains?

No, no. It's not gonna rain.

Good morning, everybody. I want to welcome you all to the first day of the quarter for Applied Electrical Engineering.

My name is Dr. Robert Kearns and I'd like to start by talking to you about ethics.

I can't think of a job or a career where the understanding of ethics is more important than engineering.

Who designed the artificial aortic heart valve?

An engineer did that.

And who designed the gas chambers at Auschwitz?

An engineer did that, too.

One man was responsible for helping save tens of thousands of lives, another man helped kill millions.

Now, I don't know what any of you are gonna end up doing in your lives, but I can guarantee you that there will come a day where you have a decision to make, and it won't be as easy as deciding between a heart valve and a gas chamber.

Everything we do in this classroom ultimately comes back to that notion. All right?

Grades count, too.

Hi, Jerry. Dr. Kearns.

I'm gonna make a donut run. Are you interested?

Mmm, you can't do it mechanically.

Can't do what?

That's the pause between wipes. That was my mistake.

Can't do it mechanically. You might be able to do it electronically.

Oh, probably. You want a donut?

No, thanks.

Okay.

Dennis, stop it. Timmy! Cut it out. Get over here.

Okay, Dennis, problem again?

To make it pause between sweeps.

Good. And solution?

Well, I guess we could change the speed. Yeah.

Yeah, except it would be the wrong approach and it wouldn't work.

What do I always say?

"Who farted?"

Besides that.

Uh, look for the unobvious.

Yeah. So you do listen. All right. Well, we're just looking for a measured, consistent pause.

Like your eye, right there. See that?

The way it blinks away a tear?

And we could try a bimetallic timer that responds to heat changes.

But then, of course, what do we do on a cold day?

Put the ball down. Sit down here.

I want you to put this together.

I want you to solder this, all right? Dennis, help him out. Get over here.

Here we go. Here we go. We got Team Kearns here!

Yeah, this is hot, this is hot. So, careful, all right?

That's got a transistor and a capacitor, and resistors in there.

That's as simple as I can get it. That's when you get real beauty.

When less is more.

Will it work?

It works up here perfectly.

We got resistors, each one rated at a different tolerance.

And each one should work in a wiper motor. Where are the meter cords?

Uh, just over there.

Of course, there's a thousand different combinations.

Our job is to find the one that works.

And there is one that'll work in theory.

You know, Marconi spent seven years trying to perfect the radio.

Timmy, stop with the ball, please!

Well, what do you know about that?

One, two, three, now!

Wow! One, two...

Honey, it's so great. It really works.

Two, three, now!

That's it, it's going.

It's alive!

It moves!

It pauses!

It's alive! Alive! Alive! Alive!

What do you think?

Let's go out and celebrate in real style.

Really? Yeah.

I'm gonna buy a diamond ring.

Thank you, Peggy. You're only six.

You got a little ways to go, sweetie. I got the burger, right?

Can I have some more Pepsi?

Uh, me, too, please.

Sure, if your parents say it's okay.

All right this time. Did you get a pickle?

You know why I wanted so many kids?

Because I had six in my family and you loved my family?

True. I missed that growing up.

I think you're all caught up.

Hey. Hey. Listen up! Look at him. Look.

There's 20 million cars built in this country every year, and every one of them is gonna need our wiper.

Wow! Huh?

And guess who's gonna manufacture those.

Who, Dad?

Us.

We are?

Yeah, we are. In fact, here you go.

I want to toast to the Kearns Corporation right here and its board of directors.

Lou Galin's two weeks late on that glass shipment.

What do you want me to do?

Well, why don't you give him a call? He's your buddy.

Did you pay him? Yeah. Half.

I'll call him.

Well, that's the damnedest thing.

Yeah.

Get this, it's also possible to build a timing control into the wiper column so that you could adjust the time between movements.

Well, why?

Well, because it obviously rains at different intensity levels.

Yeah. Right.

That's part of the whole idea.

What do you want to do with it?

Well, Bob wants to manufacture it.

So from our end, we just put up the dough for the patents, research and development, all of which goes through Kearns, and we also seed the money for manufacturing.

And I could be ready to go very soon.

Yeah, it's a pretty simple deal. The fact is, if we can nail a quarter of cars in America at, what, 50 bucks a pop?

Think about it.

Just curious, do you have any manufacturing experience, Mr. Kearns?

Inventing, with all due respect, is one thing, but building is...

Well, Bob's background's in engineering, so I don't see how...

Gil, Gil, let Bob talk, for Christ's sake.

Right, right. Bob? Yeah, um...

Well, no actual experience, no, not yet.

But, uh... Look, I know I'm not your ordinary businessman.

I don't have an MBA, but...

No apologies, Bob. You're doing great.

We'll hold his hand the whole time.

It's not gonna be a problem. Yeah, it's a bet.

But so was the kidney machine that keeps Dad alive.

Barely alive. What are you gonna call it?

The Kearns Blinking Eye Wiper.

Yeah. Well, I'm not sure about the name.

You look sensational, hon.

Thanks.

You're a little nervous, huh?

Aren't you?

No.

Welcome, ma'am. Thanks.

Welcome, sir.

Sir? Here you go.

Funny, we've never been inside here before.

Oh, yeah. I never thought about it.

Well, start thinking about it.

I want to be able to take you to more places like this.

Okay.

No, really. This is a big deal. Start of a new life.

You gonna quit teaching?

You think I should?

I think you should take it a step at a time.

Oh, so you're saying it's not gonna last.

No! I'm saying I'll love you either way.

Which is French for "be prepared to fail."

Robert! No.

I just want to do something important.

You will.

Will you love me more if I do?

No. I'll love you more if you're rich.

I married a gold digger. What do you know about that?

Oh, I just... They're driving me crazy.

They don't want to go to the rec center anymore, and at least when school starts, that takes care of four of them.

And then we've just got the two little ones at home, but we have fun.

Well, ours are up at Harbor Springs. They just love it up there.

Oh, I bet! But you don't go with them?

Well, that's the problem. It's just hard to find time to get away.

Right, Bob? They think it's like summer camp up there.

I don't even think they notice we're not there.

Mmm.

Do you see Robert's eye? Yeah, is that bothering you?

No. Do you know the story of Robert's eye?

Oh, Phyll, Phyll, forget it. The story of our wedding night?

It's such a funny story, honey!

So, it's our wedding night, and I'm getting ready in the bathroom and putting on my little negligee.

Okay, okay, okay!

And Robert's in the next room, opening a bottle of champagne.

Well, I'd never opened one before.

Figures. Bob had never opened a bottle of champagne before his wedding night.

So I had it down between my legs, and I look down and, pow!

Cork goes off right in my eye, and I fall back on the sheets. I was bleeding.

I come out and start screaming.

Screaming bloody murder, Phyllis. I don't know what's happened.

But it all turned out okay and he made it up to me later.

Hey, hey!

Good evening, everyone. My name is Joe Warwick, and I'm the guy who leaned on you to come out tonight.

And I'm glad I did.

I want you to give yourselves a big hand, because tonight, we raised $11,000 for the Children's Hospital.

Now, let's do some more dancing to the sound of the Telegraph Five!

Hey, let's dance. No.

It's okay, it's okay, come on. No, Phyllis. Phyllis.

Come on.

Hey. Say, Bob. Phyllis, you look lovely.

Would you mind if Gil and I dragged Bob outside for some business chat?

Where we can hear ourselves think.

Go on.

We've got some real interesting news for you.

Paul, when are they gonna fix that seventeenth green?

I'm tired of playing on that temporary green.

I'm on it, I'm on it. I took it to the board. It'll get taken care of.

Bob, you don't play golf, do you?

Uh, no, no.

So, Bob, we got some really good feedback on the feelers we put out for the Blinking Eye.

Yeah, it turns out the concept isn't as unique as we first thought.

The Big Three have assigned their windshield wiper teams to come up with an intermittent wiper.

That's what they call it. The Intermittent Wiper.

The Intermittent Wiper. I'll be damned.

No, it's fine. More than anything, now we know there's a demand for it.

Until now, your wiper seemed like a clever gadget.

But they want it. And more importantly, they haven't cracked it yet.

Mercury's been working on one for over a year and they still haven't beaten it.

So we want to set up a demonstration.

Now, Ford is very interested in seeing what we have.

Ford?

You didn't mention anything about...

Are you ready?

Wow, Ford. Wow.

I don't know. I mean, it needs some more work.

More consistency.

I can assure you we won't sell it if we don't show it.

Yeah, but should we be showing them ours if they're already working on their own version?

Well, that's up to you.

But maybe it's a good reason to show it sooner than later.

I don't know, Gil.

Kearns, I'd hate to see you if you got bad news.

We're not gonna let anybody take it apart, especially after the money we've put into the patents.

We'll just give them a peek. Cat stays in the bag.

Now, Paul's real excited about this.

In fact, I haven't seen him quite like that in a long time.

Well, I got a lot to do.

No, I know, know. By the way, this is yours.

Mine?

For now. No more aquariums, Bob.

Just throw the unit in here and take it to Ford.

Sal!

Sal here'll help you put it in.

Just tell us what you want, Mr. Kearns.

Okay.


He'll be here.

We're very busy here, Mr. Previck.

This is him, yeah? Yeah.

Hiya, Bob. Hey, Gil.

Frank Sertin, Vice President of Research and Development, meet Bob Kearns, the inventor of the Intermittent Windshield Wiper.

Oh, we'll see. We'll see.

It's a real pleasure. Good. Thank you.

All right, Bob, let's see what you got.

All right. And, Bob!

We want you to do it with the engine running.

We've found that the heat can play havoc with some of the systems we've tried.

Right now?

Right now.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Where... Where's he going?

Bob's real big on security.

Okay.

Okay, Bob! Come on, let her rip!


What's going on? I don't know.

Okay.

Bob?

I don't know.

Okay.

Bob! Yeah?

Oh, here! It's a fuse.

It's the fuse. It's a fuse!

Yeah, we're good.

It'll do that all day, engine running or not.

Well, that is...

That's good.

We call this "variable speed."

Variable speed.

"Variable dwell."

That is very impressive.

Gil, how about giving us a little look under the hood, huh?

Sorry, Frank, we can't do that.

He's not doing that manually, is he?

Bob? Bob!

Uh, would you get out of the car?

They think you might be manipulating the controls.

Well, I am.

That is very good, Bob.

That is very, very good.

I think we should get you a copy of our specs.

But I can tell you this, though. At a minimum, at a minimum, it's gonna have to run a million and a half cycles under real-time conditions.

And operate... Uh, excuse me.

What's the maximum temperature under the hood?

It's, uh... Two hundred and seventy degrees.

Mmm-hmm.

If it operates in the field like it did here...

Where'd you get your degree?

Uh, Case Western.

I'm gonna look under the hood.

Sorry, we'd rather not.

It's nothing against Ford, sir. I've admired the company my whole life.

No problem.

But I'll get to work right away, just as soon as I get the specs.

Okay, good, good.

Listen, I know that we are gonna be in touch with you.

Yes, sir. Very good. Gil.

Frank.

Dr. Kearns? Case Western.

That's a... That's a good school.

Get out of the car. Get out of the car.

You did a hell of a job, pal.

Hell of a job.

Thank you.

I'll see you.

Well, there's a difference between a good idea and a good product.

I've had a lot of good ideas.

Just nothing that's quite clicked, you know?

It makes you wonder what it is makes a man successful.

Brains?

Talent?

Of course, there's a lot of unsuccessful talents running around out there.

Maybe this is the one.

Maybe this'll get you where you want to be, you know?

Yeah.

But I don't know. I look at you and I look at us and I just think

you're a success. Don't you feel that way?

Maybe it's some other thing.

Like luck, timing.

Some intangible thing like that.

It haunts me a little.

I'm gonna get some more tea. Do you want anything?

No, I'm good. No? Okay.

I explained it to her, and then she just, like...

Patrick, come on with that paper!

I'm good, I got it!

Okay, it's Tuesday, "Cold, clear and sunny.

"Wednesday, clear and warmer."

Hey, hey, hey. Hey, give it back!

Let him have it.

Okay, "Thursday, clear.

"Friday, partly cloudy and colder, and a clearing on Sunday."

Well, we need some rain.

Maybe instead of grace, we should say a prayer, Dad.

Didn't we just say grace already? Yeah.

No, no, that's okay. That's okay. Let's do that. Come on.

Let's do a little prayer here, huh?

When you say a prayer, you're supposed to fold your hands.

Dear God, thank you for all the sunshine you've been sending.

We know in your infinite wisdom, you managed to create the elasticity of rain water different than tap.

If you could see it in your good graces to, you know, send us some rain so that we can test the Blinking Eye in real-life conditions, we'd appreciate it. Amen.

Amen.

Do you think he heard you, Daddy?

My luck, he's a G.M. man.

Go, go, go!

Careful! Dennis, in the back! Maureen, be careful!

And it's working, too. Watch that, watch that.

I can adjust the speed, too. I can adjust it.


Look at that. Yeah.

Perfect. That was awesome.

Hey, hey, hey! Hey, you see that car across the street?

Oh, yeah.

Look at the driver. He's staring right at us.

He thinks I'm turning the wiper on and off here.

You think he can tell?

Look at this. No, no! Look here.

Look at that, mister. No hands! He's wondering what the heck's going on!

How's he doing that?

No hands. Hi.

How the heck are they doing that?

We got ourselves a winner here, I'd say.

Ford Motor Company. How can I help you?

What's the deal?

Well, he's got it, and it really seems to work.

And you've gone through it completely?

As close as we could from a distance.

He hasn't actually let us do any surgery.

Why not?

He's nervous about people getting too close.

Mack, he is a particular kinda guy.

Well, whatever. We gotta get this puppy moving.

The marketing department's all over me. They think they can sell the shit out of it.

What's he want?

To build it.

He wants to manufacture it? Himself?

Apparently, that's his dream, yeah.

Okay, well, we'll deal with that later.

Right now we need to get him on board.

Okay.

Come on in, guys. Bob, Dick Gordon.

There you go. Nice to see you again.

Gil, nice to see you again.

You, too, Macklin.

This is Dr. Bob Kearns.

Bob Kearns, winner of the wiper competition. Congrats.

Bob, I've been going over the reports on your Intermittent. It looks like you cracked it.

Have you worked up a unit price yet?

No. Not yet. I'm hoping to...

Good. And you do want to manufacture it?

Yes, sir. I want to come through for Ford.

And we like that. So let's get a unit price, then.

Frank, have you sent a working unit to Washington?

No, Mack, we haven't. Bob's... He's not comfortable with that.

Really?

Now, Bob, you do understand this is a safety device.

And before we can install any safety device on any of our cars, we have to submit it to Washington for approval.

And that means we're gonna need a working unit from you.

I understand that. And I understand I'll need your cars for my wipers.

But I thought that, uh, if we had a...

We like to work closely with our people, Bob.

That's... That's the deal.

Nothing else would make sense. I'm sure Gil will tell you that we have a very close relationship with Previck Automotive.

Bob knows that. That's why we came here first.

He's right, though, Bob. It does need to be approved.

We're interested in offering the Intermittent as an option on at least one model next year. From there, our plan is to expand it to the entire line.

Now, that means we're working under a serious deadline.

So we're gonna need a unit from you as fast as possible.

Okay. Yeah, I can do that.

Great.

Let's get started on the legal right away.

Right, gentlemen? Absolutely.

Thank you. Thank you so much.

I'll get my demo and research over to Mr. Sertin.

Excellent. This is what it's all about, Bob. Corporate "can do."

How about that?

Now, remember. There's a right way and a wrong way to do this, okay?

Whatever you do, don't let them think that it's perfect.

But what if it is?

Hey, listen to your father now.

Here, you wanna take him? No, I'm serious about this.

Be very careful what you say, okay?

The moment they think they got a sucker in the line, you're dead.

Here he comes.

Just everybody take it easy. Let him come to us a little bit, okay?

We'll be fine. Let me do the talking.

What's new about that?

Hey! No back talk. Come here.

Michael? Hi.

How are you? Bob Kearns. Nice to meet you, Bob.

How big is it?

Thirty thousand square feet.

Structurally, this is as sound as any building you'll find in Detroit.

The loading ramps are more than ample for any job you may have.

Sure looks like it needs a lot of work.

We're concerned about the price. Is it the best you can do?

Well, we can probably work out an eight cents per foot improvement, Mrs. Kearns.

What do you think, guys? How much is it?

Fifty cents a square foot.

No.

No, we were figuring on a lot less than that.

I think the owners might come down a bit.

Well, we'll have to think about it. Hey!

You hear that echo? This place is solid!

It's perfect, Michael. Absolutely perfect! I love it.

It's such a simple idea.

I'm amazed no one's cracked it before. Where did you do your research?

My basement.

So, these S.D. 25s are fixed costs?

Yes, we can do a discount after 400,000 units.

I assume you'll put the Ford contracts up against costs. They're backing it, right?

Oh, yeah. We're down the road on all that. My biggest concern is that you'll be able to provide us with the necessary transistors and circuits that we need.

Mr. Kearns, Motorola is the biggest electronics manufacturer in the world.

I think if we can supply the Pentagon, we can supply you.

The who? The...

That's a good one.

Hiya, Bob. Hi.

The gentleman at Motorola put me in touch with their finance department.

Yeah. Yeah. Bob?

No, I'm serious about this. We should talk about cash flows...

Want me to take your order? Yes.

Actually, do you mind giving us a second?

Sure. Thanks, hon.

Sorry, I'm starving.

They want out, Bob.

Who wants out? Ford.

What?

They're just not interested anymore.

Wait, wait, what... What do you mean? Well... What happened?

I'm not sure.

Well, who did you talk to?

Tyler. Yeah. Macklin?

What did he say exactly?

Like I said, they want out.

Out?

They're not ready yet, and they're not gonna make a move until they are.

They gave me a line like, you know, "It's not the Ford style."

Out, or ready, Gil? Which one is it?

Hang on a second. I'm in this, too.

They have the unit.

We'll get it back. When?

I don't know.

I closed on the operating loan.

Well, don't forget, I thought you should slow down on that.

They're loading in transistors.

We're gonna figure this out. All we gotta do is take it to another...

Bullshit.

Listen. Chrysler, A.M.C., G. M...

My kids. It's my kids.

Ford was our best bet. We both know that. But we're not done.

Okay, but they... They strung us along, and they looked at my work.

I know.

I know.

We had a deal.

I think they might be negotiating here, Gil.

No. They're not.

You sure? Because I haven't... Yeah.

It's dead there, Bob.

My God.


All the boxes are going in the cage until you know where they go!


Professor Kearns. Find what you want?

Yes, Louis, thanks.

"State Highway System: History and Facts."

This for one of your classes?

No, I'm just doing some work for the state, analyzing pavement erosion.

Nothing too exciting.

Yeah, but they're paying you to come up with stuff.

Sounds pretty good to me. You know, I'm sort of a amateur idea man myself.

A few of us even have an inventors' club.

Maybe I can call you sometime, ask you some questions.

Absolutely.


Hey, you guys are late. Take it around the back entrance.


Have your invitations out and ready, please.

Hey, folks, welcome to Ford.

Got your invitation, sir? Yeah. Right here.

There are tons of options.

Excuse me, sir. Please don't touch the car.

It comes with Select Air air conditioning in all the models, and many options are available.

What about the tires?

Oh, beautiful Magnum 500 wheels...

Go, go, go, go!

Come on and fly with me Go, go, go, go!

And take a drive with me Go, go, go, go!

And try a Ford with me Don't stop! Don't stop!

Go, go, go, go!

Go, go, go, go!

Our Fords are bright tonight Go, go, go, go!

They're outta sight tonight Go, go, go, go!

They're really right tonight Don't stop! Don't stop!

Go, go, go, go, go!

Ladies and gentlemen, members of the Ford family.

Introducing the new, the redesigned, the finest Ford Mustang in the history of the Ford Motor Company.

With more options than ever before.

Stereo, rear window defroster and the brand-new electronic Intermittent Windshield Wiper. Let's give it a hand!

Ladies and gentlemen, have you seen anything that's sexier than that?

And I'm talking about the car now, not the Mustang girls, who, by the way, know these automobiles inside out.

Don't hesitate to ask them any questions you have, and remember, in the main auditorium we have all of next year's exciting buys!

Excuse me, sir. Could I see your invitation?

Uh, I'm with, uh, Mr. Tyler.

Why don't we talk about it outside?

No, I'm with Mr...

Mr. Tyler!

Sir, please. Right this way.

Mr. Tyler!

Right this way, sir.

Sir, outside. Thank you.

Okay. Easy.

Step outside. Easy!

Their story is that they went with another design, one they had in the works before ours.

Yeah, and that's... Or yours.

...just what it is. It's a story.

It's a goddamn lie.

Come on.

No, no, I took apart one of their motors, Gil.

You know what I found inside? Transistors, capacitors, variable resistors.

Now, that is my design!

What about the patents? Aren't they worth anything?

Legally, they're Previck's patents.

What is that supposed to mean?

Nothing. It's a technical term.

Barney's putting together another letter. It's tougher.

You can take a look at it once it's drafted.

Another letter?

A letter? Gil, they stole this from us!

Whoa! Let's be careful with our language.

Let's not use words like "steal."

Who the hell is this guy? Huh?

Bob...

Who the hell are you? What's your angle?

Bob! We gotta be really strategic about this. Methodical.

And whatever you say reflects on all of us.

So we're gonna fight it, but we're gonna do it the right way.

How long is it gonna take to get an answer?

First, this is Ford. It won't be quick.

Second, patents. Christ, they're a minefield.

Not to mention, the patent courts are totally jammed.

It's gonna take some time.

Well, whatever it takes. The point is, this is all gonna be okay.

Good. And in the meantime, let's go a little softer on the language.

So, a lot of these formulas work in opposition with one another.

So that a capacitive reactance, uh, varies inversely with the product of both...

Uh, frequency?

Yeah. Did I call on you?

Sorry.

Frequency, yes. And capacitance. Make a note of it.

I'm gonna take a quick break.

Mr. Previck would appreciate your patience in this matter.

Yes, well, I'd appreciate it if Mr. Previck could return my phone call.


Who is it? It's Mr. Kearns.

Come in, Mr. Kearns.

Oh, hi, Wade. Hi.

Wade, did you ask who it was?

He did, Jean. Hi.

Hi. Bob! What's going on?

Uh, is Gil here?

It's not really a great time right now. You should have called.

Jean, hon, do you mind getting me a refill?

Sure, hon.

Thanks, hon. I'll just be a second.

Okay.

I'm sorry. I... Hang on a second.

I thought we were gonna stay in communication here, so...

Don't you think it's a little outta line, you coming over like this?

Okay, well, you haven't returned my calls in six days.

I'm not sure I like your tone.

I'm through waiting. I'm not gonna sit around and do nothing.

You're not doing nothing.

You called the lawyer, you pulled Taylor out of a mock trial.

You're on everybody.

You even called my father, for crying out loud. He's sick!

Tell me one thing. Are you backing out of this?

What I'm doing is looking at our options like any sensible person would.

Of course they're stonewalling us. What do you expect?

So then we take them to court!

Is that right?

This is Detroit, Bob. I did $17 million in business last year.

You want to guess what I'm gonna do next year if I start taking my customers to court?

This is not about money. This is about right and wrong, and you know it.

For Christ's sake, you're my friend!

That's right. I am.

Did you ask to be involved in this deal?

You need some perspective.

You need to take a hard look at reality and realize what we're up against.

It's not your only good idea.

You've been coming up with stuff like this since you were 14.

Now, I need to get back to my dinner, so we'll continue this later.

I'll go it alone.

No. Leave it alone. Bob?

It's not over yet.

I'm not gonna back off of this.

We don't have the money to bring in lawyers right now, so we're gonna have to do the legwork ourselves, and then...

Are you talking about suing Gil Previck?

No. No, we're gonna go after the Ford Motor Company.

They're the ones that screwed us. What?

Gil just let me down.

Robert, slow down. We're...

No, no, we're gonna have to dig up everything that's ever been written about me. Okay?

Character stuff, everything.

This is my number one priority, Phyllis. Whatever it's gonna take.

Josh, I'm gonna need at least 10 new wiper motors.

And some of the earlier versions, too.

Sure, Professor. Not a problem.

Good. And circuit boards.

Yeah, they just trash the test models anyway.

All right, um, where are we gonna do this?

I'll meet you at the first lab on the second floor.

Okay.

Where's the itemization file?

All the files are in here, hon.

You should see a doctor.

Oh, I'm fine. Let's keep going.

Previck Automotive Legal Affairs.

Something to bring their attention that various automotive manufacturers are considering using electronic intermittent wiper...

I don't have it yet.

Considering using electronic intermittent wiper control...

Do you want to list who? Yes.

And that these are in direct violation of patents jointly held by both Previck and Kearns Corporation.

As the inventor of the Intermittent Wiper, I ask, no...

I demand that they take immediate legal action.

"Demand" is too strong. They're our friends.

What difference does it make?

They're not gonna read it anyway.

Then why are we doing this?

Because it makes me feel better.

Does it?

What is this file? What is this?

Kathy won it in the swim meet. She wanted you to see it.

This is a bad case of psoriasis.

Now, Phyllis, I want you to take care of yourself. Use the medication.

Here's the sample. Thanks.

And I'm going to write you a prescription.

How long do I take that for?

Well, just a month.

I don't know what's going on with you, Phyllis, but this is all stress-related.

You understand me? You have to take the stress level way down.

I'll be fine.

Hello, Jean. Phyllis.

How are the kids? Good.

Phyllis.

Why is Bob doing this?

He can't stand being called a liar.

Well, nobody's saying that he is.

They might as well be.

Oh, for God's sake, Phyllis, it's Ford. He can't win.

Take care, Jean.

Oh! God!

Yeah. Med school gives them to us.

We use them for crash tests.

You should see it when we drop them down elevator shafts.

It's very instructive.

I'll try that sometime. Did you get the boards?

What the hell is this?

I know, it's just motors. I couldn't get any circuit boards.

Why not?

They didn't have any extras. Didn't have any complete units. I don't know.

These are nothing.

Hey, man, this is the best I could do.

This doesn't help me, Josh!

I'm sorry.

What does that mean?

Wait a minute.

Did somebody talk to you?

Did you have a conversation about me?

What?

Are you working with them?

Huh? You even know who they are?

Man, I gotta go.

They're the...

They're the ones who don't give a shit about you!


Hey! Hey!

Come on!

What the hell are you doing? Hey! Hey!


Look at this lady. She had five babies at the same time.

That's quintuplets, that's what they're called.

Hello.

Is this Mrs. Robert Kearns?

Yes.

Mrs. Kearns, this is Trooper Dale with the Maryland State Police Department.

Yes.

We've located your husband, ma'am.

Is he okay?

Well, he was found on a bus outside of Brunswick.

A bus? Where is he? May I speak to him, please?

Uh, no, ma'am, he's not here.

He's being transported to a hospital facility in Rockville.

What happened?

Sorry, I don't know exactly, but you'll hear from the hospital when he arrives.

Will you be at this number?

Yes, we'll be here. Thank you so much.

Thank you, Mrs. Kearns.

Thank you. - Bye.

Hey, Bob.

Chair or couch today?

Your choice.

How's it going? Okay, I guess. Good.

I don't feel like I need to talk about it today.

Okay.

It is hard getting past it.

I'm sure it is.

Did you write any of these books?

I did. There's a thesis and several binders full of journal articles.

How would you feel if another doctor took credit for those?

Just came along and put his name on there.

I take your point.

But at the same time, if getting my name back on those articles overwhelmed my responsibilities here at the hospital, or kept me from creating new work, would that be worth it? Would it be healthy?

I don't know.

I can't answer that.

Do you want to continue fighting this?

No.

No. No, I don't.


Thank you. Mmm-hmm.

Who is that?

Come on, you guys. Tim?

Come here, you. How you doing? Hi, Daddy.

Hi, how are you guys? Daddy, I made you a picture Daddy! I'll get the bag.

No, I got the bag. Tim, let go!

You look good. Where's Dennis?

You okay? He's coming later. He's just late.

How are you, buddy? You okay?


Hey.

What do you say we round up the board of directors and go for a ride?

Kearns Corporation. Mmm.

No, I'm fine.


Let's see here.

Mmm-hmm. Mmm-hmm.

How do you pronounce your name? Kee-urns?

Kearns.

Mr. Kearns.

An inventor. Mmm-hmm.

What have you invented?

A lot of things.

Yeah, my brother-in-law does a lot of that.

Never sold anything, though. He's actually in pest control.

You really a doctor?

Ph.D.

Uh-huh.

Well, Doctor, take a look at your information.

Make sure it's correct. Sign at the bottom.

You'll probably get your first check in about six weeks.

Proceed to the third window on your left.

Thank you.

Move forward.

Hi.

Can I talk to you for a second?

Am I in trouble?

No.

I know you're mad at me. Is it because I embarrassed you?

Because I got sick?

I don't like you like this.

Okay. Well, that's why I want to talk to you.

I didn't like it like it was before, either.

I didn't do anything wrong.

Look, Dennis, if I don't fight back, if I don't do something, I'm afraid I'm gonna start feeling like I did before.

And I can't handle that.

I got a lawyer. And it's gonna be difficult.

And it's gonna be tough on your mom.

And I may not be around as much. And I need your help.

You're just starting this all over again. No, this is different.

Is that all you have to say?

Yeah.

And I'll tell you something. Now, I'm old-fashioned.

I'm not out for the quick score. This firm is in this for the long haul.

That's why I'm very glad that you're here today, Mrs. Kearns.

From several phone calls with Bob, I think I understand now what his level of commitment is.

But this is part of your life, too.

I'd like to know where you stand on this.

I want to understand exactly what this would be.

What it would mean for us.

Well, as long as you know that suing one of the most powerful corporations in the world is...

It's not something you take on lightly. I mean, let's be clear about this.

Ford is just the first.

We're gonna be bringing suits against every automobile company that's infringed on your husband's patents.

But Ford's number one.

Once they decided to put your husband's invention on their car, they gave a green light to every auto company in the world.

"To hell with your husband," is what they said.

Let me tell you something, Mrs. Kearns. I believe in what I do.

I believe in a little thing called justice.

These bastards think they can walk all over anybody they want.

But we're here to tell them that they can't, that it stops right here.

And I don't want you to worry that this is gonna take over your time or your life, because that's my job.

All right? That's why I went to law school.

Ian, this is Dr. Bob Kearns and his wife, Phyllis.

This is Ian Meillor. How do you do?

He's gonna be working on this with me.

I just want to thank both of you for giving us the opportunity to really make a difference here.

One of the first items on our agenda's gonna be discovery.

Yeah, I cannot wait to see what they've got in those files.

We're gonna jump right into it starting this afternoon.

Thank you very much.

And one other thing, I'd like to stay as involved in this as possible.

Of course. Of course, Dr. Kearns, your help will be invaluable.

In fact, we have to get... What is it?

Previck Auto.

Yeah. We have to get them on board ASAP.

Think you can do any good there?

I'll see.

Very good to meet you. Thanks for coming in.

Thank you so much. We're relieved. Thank you.

I mean, Jesus Christ, Bob, it's just a windshield wiper.

To you, maybe. To that bartender up there. But to me it's the Mona Lisa.

Well, you know what I mean. But I just thought that when you got back, you'd have a different perspective.

I do. I'm handling it differently.

Maybe you are. I don't know.

So what are you gonna do?

I don't know. Maybe I'm out of options.

Why don't you sue me?

Kearns versus Previck. Got a nice sound to it.

Well, then why wouldn't you?

You've sued everybody else. What's wrong with me?

Nothing. Other than that I've known you for 25 years.

Maybe you ought to think about it.

Get your lawyer to draft a letter threatening to sue us.

If we're lucky, we'll get a quick settlement. You understand?

Then you can have your damn patents.

Okay.

Okay, but, Bob, you gotta forget my name when it comes to Ford.

We're not gonna testify against them. We're not gonna appear.

I mean it. Well, say it.

You won't testify. Previck won't be involved in any way.

All right.

All right.

Dear Dr. Kearns, Previck Automotive has received your demand letter concerning the Kearns Blinking Eye Wiper.

While Previck has acted in accordance with the terms of our agreement, in order to avoid litigation, we have decided to assign to you our rights to the registered patents.

You will now be the sole owner of the patents.

Best regards, Gil Previck.

No, you had back there a nice bread that's all twisted up with salt on it. I don't know.

Yeah, we could do that.

No, wait, there they are! There they are. Phyllis, hi.

Hi. So good to see you. Hello, Bob.

Thank you, Jimmy. And would you bring us a bottle of Mot?

Sure.

Sit down, sit down. Sounds like good news.

I'd say it is. In fact, you could call this a celebration dinner.

This is exciting.

Would you like to know who called me on the phone today?

Charlie Defao.

Well, you may not know that name, but he's the man Macklin Tyler calls when it's closing time.

And he's not a man to waste his time on trivial matters.

Bob, Phyllis, I'm very pleased to report to you that Ford has offered to settle for $250,000.

Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Oh, my gosh.

Settle? Now, what does that mean in practical terms?

'Cause I thought we weren't gonna pursue that.

No, that was our agreement.

And we didn't do anything to seek this settlement.

This is Ford's offer.

And, frankly, we're a little surprised.

We're goddamned shocked, excuse the language.

Happily shocked, though.

Okay, but in this offer, do they admit it was my invention?

That they lied about it.

In a settlement like this, it's customary that both sides are enjoined from commenting.

What that means is, they don't say it wasn't your invention.

No, absolutely not. No. No, no, no, no. We wouldn't allow that.

But they won't say they stole it.

No, but if they're offering $250,000, I think we can see $350,000. Maybe four.

That's wonderful, I think we'd like to think about it.

Sure, of course.

Phyllis is right. You should think it over. It's been a rough 15 rounds.

No, there's nothing to think about. Tell them no.

Bob, let's take a bird's eye view for a moment, okay?

First off, if you're really thinking of turning this down and going to court, that's a very expensive proposition.

It's not a good... It's not a good play.

I'm not talking about play, Mr. Lawson.

Let me just tell you something for future reference, Bob.

I don't appreciate the way you're talking to me.

You don't have the most charming personality.

And at least four times a week, I get a call from you telling me what the law is.

You're not a lawyer, Dr. Kearns.

Now, from a real lawyer, from a 45-year member of the bar, I can tell you, this firm has spent more time on your case than you can comprehend.

Maybe. But you're getting money for this case.

Only if we settle.

Bob, think it over. It's essential.

Three, maybe $400,000, it's enough to change your whole life.

I'm sure it would.

It certainly seems like a lot.

It doesn't matter.

Look, I'm sure you men think this is a bunch of hogwash, but this is about more than money.

I always thought I was put here on this earth for a purpose.

I thought it was to be an engineer. Or maybe an inventor.

But that's not it. And now I know what it is.

God put you here to sue the Ford Motor Company?

Look, I brought these here, thinking that you had different ideas.

Edwin Armstrong invented the FM radio.

Somehow R.C.A. ended up with the patent.

He jumped out a 13-story window. This was a good man!

He was an inventor. And, look, I have letters from people.

People who've had their ideas taken from them.

They've heard about us. They're in their backyards and their garages, and they're counting on me. Please, just look at this.

Thank you very much. I really don't need to look at these right now.

Let's just get to the point. Okay?

This settlement offer is very, very generous.

And if we did get this before a jury, if we prevailed, if the jury gave you the recognition you so obviously crave...

That's insulting.

...it is doubtful that you would do any better than you would right now with this settlement.

And whatever happened to this little thing called justice you talked about?

This is justice, Bob. This is how justice is dispensed in this country.

With checkbooks.

There are no brass bands, you know. There are no ticker tape parades.

The mayor doesn't give you the key to the city and call you a hero. You get a check.

And that check makes the lives of you and your family a little easier.

A little more pleasant. It's that simple.

Well, I'll make it simple, too. Forget the check.

Get an admission that they stole it and give me the right to manufacture my wipers and this'll all be over.

Bob, since I bought this wasted champagne, just indulge me for a moment, okay?

Just think about this scenario.

Your lawsuit is over. But you know what?

You're no longer a young man. Why?

Because you're fighting a corporation that, that does not know the meaning of years. Or money.

They'll bury you with motions, injunctions, countersuits.

They'll drown you in so many irrelevant documents that you'll wake up, with cold sweats.

And five years from now, you won't be any closer to seeing the inside of a courtroom than you are right now.

Your hair will turn gray.

Life will pass you by. And for what?

Go home and talk about this with your lovely wife. Sleep on it.

And then make your decision. And if you make the decision that I hope you will, this'll all be over in a few days.

I'll show you what we got here in the stacks on patent law, but there's a load more over at the university library.

And here you go.

Oh, so it's all this?

Nope, and those shelves, too.

And that one there. And half of that one, I think.

Thanks, Louis.

You're welcome.

I'm sorry it's so late.

Uh-huh. I couldn't sleep.

Well, no turning into me.

No turning into me.

Honey, I think we should take the deal.

Well, I know you do. But I don't.

Robert, it's gone on long enough now.

We could really use the money.

Since when has this been about money?

It's not just about the money. It's about our family.

Well, why do you think I'm doing this?

How am I supposed to teach my kids about doing the right thing if I let these guys get away with this?

I'm not sure that's exactly what we're teaching them.

They like this. The kids like being involved in it.

No, they just don't want to let you down. I don't want to let you down.

We're fine.

It's like he said. They have all the time. We don't.

We're gonna be fine.


Is that the Journal? Yeah, 1949.

Gerald Reed vs. Lansing Tech.

Seems relevant, huh?

Seems like it to me.

Dr. Kearns, I'm really glad you're doing this.

The truth is, if you don't fight, the rest of us will never stand a chance.

Hey. Hey.

How you doing?

Good. Mr. Lawson called.

Okay. Where are the kids?

I took them to Deb's.

Okay. I'm gonna grab a...

Phyllis...

I wrote you a letter.

And I threw it away, 'cause I don't know what to say.

It's just become so destructive.

Okay, listen. I heard everything you said last week, and I agree with it. I'm trying to change...

No, I know. I know you want to change.

I don't think you know how.

You can't. This is just how it has to be.

Phyllis...

I'm leaving. No.

Because I think this is the right thing. Please understand.

This has overwhelmed us. Goddamn it, I need you right now!

You've stopped supporting me ever since I got home!

You don't believe in this case anymore. It's not, this isn't fair.

It's not fair! It's not fair to me.

There are seven other people in this house, and you just don't get it.

We're close. We're so close. They're calling us right now!

Honey. No. Phyllis, no, Phyllis.

Come here. We're okay.

I can't do it without you.

You're gonna be fine.

I can fix it.

Okay. You fix it. And then we'll see, okay?

For now, this is best.

You still love me?

I love you.

What did Lawson say?

He officially resigned the case.


Yeah, so, I'm going back to my room real quick, and then I'll meet you at the library.

Dennis?

Dad.

I'll catch up with you guys.

Yeah, see you later.

Hey. What's going on?

Can we get a cup of coffee?

Sure. Yeah.

It's a long article, Dad.

Just keep reading.

Where? Well, down here.

Look. Okay?

"Among other things, the new courts are

"designed to free up the logjam of patent cases

"that have been clogging the federal courts."

Do you know what that means? We can actually get to court.

They've been waiting me out. They're waiting for my patents to expire.

And if we can get them to court soon, they lose a very big advantage.

How soon? Months. Months, not years.

That's great, Dad.

Well, I'm not ready yet.

And I can't do this by myself.

Hey.

We used to talk about the Kearns Corporation. You remember that?

That was a joke, Dad.

Not to me. That was never a joke.

We weren't a corporation. We were a family.

We haven't even been that.

I need help, Dennis. I submitted a request to Ford for one document.

They sent me back 357 pages. I had to read through every one to find the relevant page.

That is all you care about. That's all you ever cared about, Dad.

Thanks for the coffee. I gotta get to class.

Okay. I'm fine.

Go ahead. Go to your class. I don't need the help.


Can I help you?

I hope so.

Bob Kearns? My name is Charlie Defao.

What do you want?

A conversation. We tried calling, but you don't answer your phone much, do you?

Who are you?

I'm here at the request of the Ford Motor Company.

You think we could go inside and discuss a few things?

Discuss what?

How about putting all this behind you?

So you can move on with your life.

And so, frankly, Ford can stop devoting so much time to your concerns.

Well, they can if they want.

They want.

And to prove it, they've authorized me to come here and offer you a lot of money.

On top of your legal expenses.

I accept.

Excellent.

On one condition.

As long as Ford takes out an ad in the Detroit Free Press, saying that they stole Robert Kearns' invention, and have done everything they can to deny me my day in court.

The only problem with that is that it'd be a lie. Huh?

To say they stole your invention would be an insult.

To every engineer, stockholder, every single man and woman at the company.

Bob, Ford is genuinely sorry if you've ever felt mistreated.

And to resolve the situation, they're willing to take the first step.

A big step. Frankly, an amazing step.

A million dollar step.

I have work to do and you're keeping me from it.

I hate to use these words, but in this case, this actually is a take it or leave it offer.

Bob, you don't want this in court, okay?

Going to the law library's not gonna make you a lawyer, Bob.

Look, I'm gonna leave you my card, okay? I've put my home number on it.

So I want you to call me anytime. Day or night.

Doesn't matter.

Just call me. I'll be waiting for your call, Bob, okay?

Just not for long.

Asshole.

Asshole.

There he is. Hey, Dad!

Hi, honey.

Hey, Dennis.

Hey, Dad.

You want to come in?

No, I'll see you, okay?

Okay. How are you?

I'm good. Yeah?

How you doing?

Dennis, hold up!

Hey. Hey.

Thanks for bringing Kathy over.

You're welcome.

Yeah. Thanks for bringing her over the last time, too.

You know?

I know you've carried a pretty big load for the family, Dennis.

It's okay, Dad.

I just want you to know you're pretty good at it.

You're better than most guys I know.

Thank you.

I'll see you.

See you.

Everything all right?

What do you want to do?

Don't you have a lot of work? I just figured I'd help out.

Hey, you work too much.

Too much typing. Let's, go have some fun.

I hear there's a... There's a car show at the Historical Museum.

We could...

Wow! That is something different.

Oh, that's very funny.


Hey, Dad.

Oh!

You scared the hell out of me.

Sorry.

Yeah.

I got some coffees for us. Looks like a long night.

Thank you. Uh, yeah, son.

Right. Okay.

Mr. Finley, Dr. Kearns, please step up into the well.

Civil action, Robert Kearns vs. the Ford Motor Company, will begin on August 14th.

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

So, Dr. Kearns, I'm not sure why, since you seem like a reasonable man, but I understand you'll be representing yourself.

Yes, sir. My son Dennis will be helping me out.

Okay, then if you're up for it, let's make it a good clean fight, shall we, gentlemen?

Of course we will, Your Honor.

I don't understand.

It's just an expression, Dr. Kearns.

August 14th. We'll see you then.

Thank you very much, Your Honor.

Thank you very much, Your Honor.

How's Mom?

She's fine.

You want the dates on these?

Yeah.

Quit your bitching. You're only carrying one.

Tough.

Hey, put those by the wall. There you go.

Is it Chrysler? Hell if I know.

Watch your language. She'll be coming to the trial, right?

Look, Dad, I told you not to get your hopes up about Mom.

Well, what does that mean?

You know what that means.

No, I really don't.

She's busy. She's doing a lot of substituting.

Is she seeing someone?

It's been four years, Dad.

Well, that's not an answer, Kath.

Well, anyway, it's okay. Just let her know. It'd be nice.

Mmm.

What a piece of crap.

It's perfect.

Hi, Phyllis. Um, I know it's late. The kids are asleep, and I think I've been putting off this call hoping you would be, too.

I just wanted you to know that the trial starts tomorrow.

Okay. Good-bye.

Hey, Dad!

Hey, Dad wait up!

Hey. How are you?

Good. How are you? Hello, Patrick.

Hey. I'm doing pretty good.

You get some rest? Oh, a little bit.

Most of the testimony you'll be hearing at this trial will be highly technical in nature.

Although you may have noticed a less technical piece of evidence in the form of half of an automobile.

The plaintiff in this case is Dr. Robert Kearns.

Dr. Kearns charges that the Ford Motor Company infringed five patents that he holds.

If you decide in Dr. Kearns' favor, you will also decide what damages, if any, are due to Dr. Kearns.

Dr. Kearns has voluntarily chosen to represent himself at this trial.

You are not to draw any inferences either for or against Dr. Kearns, simply because he is representing himself.

Yes, Dr. Kearns?

I just wanted to thank you for allowing me to represent myself and introduce my son, Dennis Kearns.

Is that all, Dr. Kearns?

I appreciate the jury giving their time to the community like this.

The jury is the conscience of the community.

Are you finished?

You might be more comfortable seated, don't you think?

Please keep in mind you're not to discuss what you hear at this trial with anyone else.

Not amongst yourselves, not in the jury room, not in the hallway...

Now, this array of electronic parts and this combination of circuitry has been used by American auto manufacturers since the 1950s.

Obviously since Ford engineers designed it, they had knowledge of it long before their first meeting with Dr. Kearns...

Would you agree that Dr. Kearns was the first person in the world, to your knowledge, to propose that combination?

I believe it's possible that it was Motorola and Ranco.

They may have. The motor makes one revolution to get one wipe out of 360 degrees. It's very simple.

We worked on that for two weeks.

Well, certainly it is important to understand that within the Ford organization, it takes some time to get written...

Well, when you start the car, the transistors come on automatically and supply 50 times as much current.

To reiterate, you've worked in the automobile industry for well over 20 years and you've been an executive at the company for a number of those years, correct?

That's correct.

Mr. Tyler, to be clear, did you ever tell Mr. Kearns that he had, quote, "Won the wiper competition"?

It doesn't sound much like me, so, no, I really don't recall making that comment.

I mean, I certainly tried to be encouraging to Mr. Kearns. I respected the man.

Hell, I still do, but to say that there was a competition is, I think, pretty big stretch.

I should also point out that Mr. Kearns's apparent intention was to manufacture his device himself.

That simply would have been impossible for us.

So, to be clear, there's no chance that Ford would have ever entertained the notion of Mr. Kearns manufacturing his own windshield wiper?

No chance.

Ford putting its name in the hands of an inexperienced supplier?

That would have been a disaster waiting to happen.

Thank you, Mr. Tyler.

Dr. Kearns? Your witness.

Mr. Tyler, did you ever ask Dr. Kearns to come up with a cost unit basis for his wiper?

I don't recall specifically everything I asked him.

I may have asked him.

Well, why would you have asked for that?

If I did, it would have been because Mr. Kearns was going on and on about manufacturing, and I would have been trying to point out the impossibility.

Well, wouldn't asking a question like that...

Unless you have a document to hand to the witness please stay at the lectern.

Uh, what...

Well, wouldn't asking a question like that imply a contract or a, an agreement of some sort?

No, not really. Uh, I'd say it's no more a commitment to buy his wipers than I would be committed to buy someone's tie if I asked him how much it cost.

Did you ever ask Dr. Kearns how much his tie cost?

No, not that I recall, and I'm not sure he was even wearing one.

But you did ask him how much his wiper cost, right?

Like I said, in a rhetorical way, it may have been possible.

So it's not the same as a tie at all, is it?

I'm sorry. What?

Thank you.

You have a Ph.D in electronic engineering, is that correct?

Uh, that's correct. I've taught for the past several years...

No, that's fine, sir. Your credentials are already part of the record.

Now, when you said earlier that Mr. Kearns didn't create anything new, could you explain what you meant by that?

Yes. As you can see, Dr. Kearns's basic unit consists of a capacitor a variable resistor and a transistor.

Now, these are basic building blocks in electronics.

You can find them in any catalog.

All Mr. Kearns did was to arrange them in a new pattern, you might say.

And that, that's not the same thing as inventing something new, however.

Did Mr. Kearns invent the transistor?

No, sir, he did not.

Did Mr. Kearns invent the capacitor?

Again, no, he did not.

Did Mr. Kearns invent the variable resistor?

No, he did not. Thank you, Professor.

You may step down, Professor Chapman.

We will resume testimony after lunch.

Dr. Kearns, your cross-examination, please.

Dr. Kearns.

Yes, sir.

Oh.

I have here a book. It's by Charles Dickens.

It's called A Tale of Two Cities.

Have you, have you ever read this book?

Objection, Your Honor. It's not relevant.

Your Honor, please, if I could just continue?

How long will it take to get to the point, Doctor?

Not very long at all.

Okay. Let's see what happens.

Have you ever read this?

Yes. Read it in high school. Very good book.

Yes, it is. I'd like to read you the first, few words, if I may.

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, "it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness."

Let's start with the first word, "It."

Did Charles Dickens create that word?

No.

No. What about "was"?

Your Honor, is Mr. Kearns gonna go through the whole dictionary?

Please, if I could just continue. I do have a point.

You may answer the question.

No.

"The"?

No. "Best"?

No. "Times"?

Look. I got a dictionary here.

I haven't checked, but I would guess that every word that's in this book can be found in this dictionary.

Well, I suspect that's probably true.

Okay, so then you agree that there's not, probably a single new word in this book.

Well, I don't know, but that's probably true.

All Charles Dickens did was arrange them into a new pattern, isn't that right?

Well, I admit I haven't, thought about it in that way.

But Dickens did create something new, didn't he?

By using words.

The only tools that were available to him.

Just as almost all inventors in history have had to use the tools that were available to them.

Telephones, space satellites all of these were made from parts that already existed, correct, Professor?

Parts that you might buy out of a catalog.

Technically that's true, yes, but that does...

No further questions.

You may step down, Professor Chapman.

Dad, how old do you think that Finley guy is?

I don't know.

Hey, Dr. Kearns?

I brought some guys from the inventors club.

Oh, that's great, Louis. See you in there.

Hey, Dad!

Oh, there you are. Hey.

How you guys doing? Hey. Good. How are you doing?

Hi, Dad. Good.

Hey.

How are you?

Yeah, good. Good.

I guess I should be thinking about going to law school.

They said it's been going great. I'm glad.

Yeah. Thank you for coming.

Sure. Go. Go.

Yeah. Yeah, I'll see you.

A minute, Dennis.

Okay. Bye, sweets. Okay. Okay. Bye, Mom, see you later.

All right, let's go.

Dr. Kearns is our next witness.

Because Dr. Kearns is representing himself, he is obligated to proceed in a question and answer form.

It may seem a little odd, but you must carefully distinguish between the question being asked and the answer being given.

Dr. Kearns?

Thank you, Your Honor.

Dad, don't forget the jury.

Could you please state your name and tell us where you live?

My name is Dr. Robert Kearns and I live in Detroit, Michigan.

Do you need my address?

No, that won't be necessary, but we would like a...

Dr. Kearns. Why don't you just have a seat?

Relax and do your examination from there.

Thank you.

Dr. Kearns, was the Intermittent Wiper your first invention?

No, it was not, but it was probably my best.

Objection, Your Honor. Counsel's leading the witness.

What? Overruled. Proceed.

Thank you. Uh, could you describe for the court your first invention?

My first invention was in college.

Back then, uh, yellow margarine, because of the dairy lobby, couldn't be sold in stores, because it would look like, like butter.

So I came up with a bag, basically a plastic bag, with a little seal on the top, and you would insert a tab of yellow dye in order to make the margarine appear to look like butter.

Dr. Kearns.

But it wasn't. It was margarine.

Could we move on to the reason why we're all here? The wiper?

Yes. Yes. Yes. Could you, Dr. Kearns, please explain your concept for the Intermittent Wiper?

In 1941, the Supreme Court came up with the notion that, somewhere in the process of inventing, the inventor must experience some sort moment.

What they called "a flash of genius," in order to qualify for a patent.

And I probably owe my flash to my honeymoon.

I was very much in love, and my wife Phyllis and I were at a hotel.

And I was opening a bottle of champagne and not paying attention.

I was probably thinking how lucky I was.

And popped the cork and it went off, hit me in the eye.

This one right here. About knocked me out.

I was bleeding everywhere and they operated on me that night.

And they saved my eye. And the first thing I saw the next morning was Phyllis.

Yeah. I'm legally blind in my left eye, and I've thought about the human eye because of that ever since.

And years ago, I was riding back from church with my family and it was drizzling outside, and I had a thought.

Why couldn't a wiper work like an eyelid?

Why couldn't it blink?

That's how I came up with it.

Hello, jury.

Why are you here? What are you doing here?

What am I doing here? What are we all doing here?

I'm here because my mother and father and their mother and father and Uncle Wiggly and...

Good evening, Dennis. My name is Charlie Defao.

I know who you are.

Right. May I come in?

Let him in, son.

Hello, Bob. Mr. Defao.

Good evening.

Bob, what do you say, we take the guesswork and the anxiety out of the situation, for everybody's sake?

Can we do that?

What's going on?

No, just...

Bob, $30 million.

Thirty million? Yep.

I'm here tonight to offer your father, essentially this family, that much money.

The trial goes away. We don't leave this to a jury.

We settle this here tonight.

But no statement of my invention?

Or, or the time or energy, my ruined reputation...

And more money than you can have ever imagined.

Bob, I am telling you, if you trust this to a Detroit jury, you could walk away with nothing.

Okay? Now, look at these guys.

Can you imagine what that would mean for their future?

What do you kids think? I've put you through all this.

You've certainly earned the right to say anything you want to say.

Timmy?

I don't know, Dad. It's a shitload of money.

Don't do it, Dad.

Hell with it, Dad. We've come this far.

Well, Mr. Defao, you don't have much luck in this house.

Bob, let me ask...

No. I'll see you tomorrow.

This is insane. I mean 20 years of litigating, this family takes the cake.

Well, gentlemen, I'm looking forward to your final arguments.

Dr. Kearns, Mr. Finley.

The defense would like to recall a witness to the stand, Your Honor.

Mr. Robert Kearns.

No! Is that procedure?

Is this really necessary?

I have to say that I certainly think it is, Your Honor.

We'll be brief, but it is quite pertinent.

Your Honor, I'm ready for my summary right now.

Well, it'll have to wait, Dr. Kearns.

Please take the stand.

Please keep in mind you're still under oath, Dr. Kearns.

Mr. Kearns, you have testified here that Mr. Tyler told you that you had, quote, "won the wiper competition."

Yes.

And you firmly believe that that's the truth, don't you?

Yes, I do.

It couldn't have been something that misheard?

Something that you imagined?

No.

Do you recall being removed from a bus in Maryland by police four years ago?

Yes.

And do you remember what you told the officers at the time?

That you were on your way to Washington, D.C. and that it was at the request of the White House?

Do you remember that, Mr. Kearns?

Yes. And at that time...

Just answer the questions please.

Was it at the request of the Vice President?

No, it was not.

And were you subsequently treated for a nervous breakdown and confined to the Rockville State Mental Facility?

Yes.

And that was because you were mentally unstable, right?

I was seeking medical treatment at the time.

But you were convinced that the White House wanted you to come to Washington, D.C., weren't you?

Yes.

Just as you were convinced that Mr. Tyler told you that you won the wiper competition.

Thank you, Mr. Kearns. No further questions.

I'm gonna get a soda or something. You guys want anything? Dad?

Fuck Charlie Defao.

I took some time off yesterday and went to my mother's for dinner.

On the way over there, I thought back to how when I was a kid my mother used to make lemon meringue pie.

But not just any old lemon meringue pie.

The best lemon meringue pie in the world.

See, she had one of those hand squeezers, and she would crank out that lemon juice, all for that pie.

After I finished school and I started making my own way in the world, one of the first things I did is I went out and I bought my mother an electric juicer.

And you know what?

She still makes the best lemon meringue pie in the world.

And it would never occur to me, to claim credit for that pie.

And that's what this case is all about.

Who really baked that lemon pie?

And there is no question, what the evidence shows.

Who engineered, designed and tested windshield wipers with the self-parking features back in the 1940s?

Ford Motor Company.

Who engineered, tested, produced and sold windshield wipers with what was called "depressed park" back in the 1940s?

Ford Motor Company.

Now, I am truly proud of a system where a layman, a dedicated college professor, who has taught for many years, can come in here and state his case.

Unfortunately, as we have proven earlier, he sometimes confuses reality with fiction.

Fortunately, he has sought professional help in those cases.

But the sad fact of the matter is that Robert Kearns, a good and decent man, has dragged us all into this courtroom over patents that have been proven invalid.

Invalid. And that's what this case is all about.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for your time and attention.

Oh, and you want to know who really baked that lemon meringue pie?

Ford Motor Company. Thank you.

Dr. Kearns.

Okay, Dad, let's go.

One of Mr. Finley's facts is undeniable, I never baked a lemon meringue pie in my entire life.

Why are we here?

I am asking why you and I are here.

Why have our lives crossed?

Well, one thing I can tell you.

We are not here because of anything Ford did or didn't do back in the 1940s.

Mr. Finley over here has made it an art out of talking about all the things that I didn't invent.

But what Mr. Finley has a very hard time talking about are the things I did invent.

And why is that? Because he can't, that is why.

But we are here because the Ford Motor Company, used their influence, and their money, and all their corporate power to take advantage of the situation.

Ladies and gentlemen, what they did was downright wrong.

They claimed another man's work for their own.

And now, all these years later, after getting caught,

they have the arrogance to sit here and look you in the eye and say, "No, no, no, the Ford, Ford Company didn't do anything wrong."

No, they knew it all along.

They, had everything they needed to build this invention.

They knew it already. But I can tell you that they did not know everything.

They did not know everything on that hot summer day that I showed up in their parking lot with my partner, Gil Previck, and an early version of what I called the Kearns Blinking Eye Motor.

And now, with all these great impressive lawyers over here, they're trying to tell you that my patents were expired.

That the patent office made a mistake, not one time, not two times, but five times when they issued me my patents.

And now they're trying to make you believe that they're worthless, that they're nothing.

That my life's work is nothing.

They want you to believe that, because that is what they believe.

Well, I want you, uh...

I want you to know something.

When I walked into this courtroom, I was wearing a badge right here.

You couldn't see it. It said I was an inventor.

A contributor to society.

And I know that you couldn't see this when I walked in here.

And right now there are people still in this courtroom who can't see that badge.

Mr. Finley, well, he can't see that badge.

None of the men at that table can.

But I'd like to believe that after everything that you've heard, and everything that you've listened to for these past few weeks, that you can see it, you can see this badge.

That's what I hope.

I can see you're tired.

And I'm tired, too.

So I'm not gonna sit up here and try and interpret everything you've heard for these past few weeks.

I'm just gonna ask you to use your memory and your good sense

to do the right thing.

That's all I could ask of anybody.

Yeah. Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you, Dr. Kearns. Thank you, Mr. Finley.


Has the jury reached a verdict?

We have, Your Honor.

Would you please read it?

In the Robert Kearns vs. the Ford Motor Company, we find that the Ford Motor Company did infringe on...

...did infringe on patents held by Robert Kearns.

In consideration of these non-willful infringements, we award the plaintiff $10,100,000.

I can't believe we won. We really did it.

That's amazing! We won, Daddy.

Bob. Congratulations.

Hell, you earned it. I'm really happy for you.

Thank you, Gil.

Phyllis? Phyllis!

Congratulations, Robert.

You finally got everything you wanted. And you deserve it.

Well, not everything.

I don't get the last 12 years back.

I suppose not.

But it's over.

I don't think so. No.

It'll never be over. There'll always be another battle.

That's just you.

Yeah, I've been thinking about that.

I don't know if I can go through this again.

Dr. Kearns? Dr. Kearns!

Oh. Wow!

Louis... Wow!

We just wanted to congratulate you.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

A bunch of us, we got together and we got you this.

Oh...

You were just excellent in there. I mean, I don't think they know what hit them back there. We were just talking about it.

Like, we were talking about it as the whole thing happened.

That was something else. Thank you. Thank you.

It's just great. Wow!

There was like, 19 reporters there.

Yeah, I saw a guy from CNN.

There were some other television studios, too.

Well, that's what I meant.

I had chocolate.

Oh, thanks. I had strawberry.

I know, you guys, I know. We know.

Might I be able to get a hamburger, too?

I think we can work on that for you, sure.

Thanks.

So, uh, anyone see Kathy kiss up to that guy from the Washington Post?

Oh, yeah.

He wasn't from there. He was from Channel 7, actually.

Exactly.

Did you get your face up in there, big enough?

No, I don't think I did actually.

Uh, I don't have a spoon.

Well, you could have mine but I just used it.

There was a guy from England, too.

Uh, The London Times, actually.