Film / Flash Of Genius

Flash of Genius (2008) is the story of Robert Kearns (Greg Kinnear), who develops and patents the intermittent windshield wiper. When he displays it to Ford Motor Company executives, he makes a deal to manufacture it himself and sell it to them.

Eventually, while attending a Ford dealers convention displaying the Mustang, he discovers Ford used his design without his consent, credit or payment, and decides to sue Ford.

This film provides examples of the following tropes:

  • A Fool for a Client: Kearns represents himself against Ford in 1980, after his attorney, Gregory Lawson (Alan Alda), withdraws from the case, and is awarded $10.1 million in damages. In Real Life, Lawson did not withdraw, and Kearns was in fact represented by a team of lawyers, and actually settled with Ford for the $10 million. Kearns did, however, represent himself against Chrysler in 1992, winning $18.7 million.note  It's possible this was done so as to have a scene where Kearns examines himself in homage to an episode of King of the Hill.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Kearns wins and Ford must admit they stole his design, but his family leaves him long before the trial.
  • Off on a Technicality: General Motors couldn't be sued because they designed their own intermittant wiper that did not infringe on Kearns' pattents.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Ford offers Kearns a $30 million settlement with no admission of wrongdoing. He rejects this, instead going to court, where he's awarded $10.1 million. In Real Life, he subverts this, as he was actually trying to obtain exclusive manufacturing rights (today, over 145 million cars use his design), not for any moral reasons, and eventually settled out of court (he was awarded damages in the suit against Chrysler).
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We never find out what happens regarding Kearns' vandalism of some random person's brand new Cadillac.
  • Where Are They Now: The closing credits mention that Kearns was awarded $18.7 million in a lawsuit against Chrysler Corp. in 1992, and that he died in 2005.