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Jury Says Ford Didn’t Intentionally Infringe on Inventor’s Patent Rights

May 9, 1990

DETROIT (AP) _ A federal jury has found that Ford Motor Co. didn’t intentionally infringe on an inventor’s patent rights to his intermittent windshield wiper.

However, the partial verdict decided on Tuesday still means Robert W. Kearns could collect a considerable amount of money, said Cincinnati patent lawyer Jim Hayes.

″It does not alleviate the jury’s initial ruling but it does mean that he will collect less,″ Hayes said.

The U.S. District Court panel adjourned after releasing its partial verdict in the claims by Kearns, and was scheduled to begin a sixth day of deliberations today to decide how much money the inventor should receive.

The same jury on Jan. 29 ruled that Ford had violated the patent held by Kearns, a former Wayne State University professor who now lives in Gaithersburg, Md.

Kearns claims in his 12-year-old suit against Ford that he installed a set of his wipers on a 1962 Ford and took it to the automaker. He said he believed that Ford would buy his system since engineers questioned him at length about it.

Kearns, 62, also is suing General Motors Corp., Chrysler Corp., Honda Motor Co. Ltd. and a dozen other automakers and auto-related companies. The case against Ford was the first to go to trial.

After the jury’s January decision, Judge Avern Cohn issued an order forbidding Kearns or Ford officials from talking about the case.

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