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Flash of Genius

Flash of Genius is a 2008 American biographical drama film directed by Marc Abraham. Philip Railsback wrote the screenplay based on a 1993 New Yorker article by John Seabrook. The story focuses on Robert Kearns (played by Greg Kinnear) and his legal battle against the Ford Motor Company after they developed an intermittent windshield wiper based on ideas the inventor had patented. The film's title comes from the phrase "flash of genius" (like "stroke of genius"), which is patent law terminology that was in effect from 1941 to 1952, although Kearns's patent was filed in 1964; it held that the inventive act must come into the mind of an inventor as a kind of epiphany, and not as the result of tinkering.

Plot

On his wedding night in 1953, an errant champagne cork renders college engineering professor Robert Kearns (Greg Kinnear) almost completely blind in his left eye. A decade later, he is happily married to Phyllis (Lauren Graham) and the father of six children. As he drives his Ford Galaxie through a light rain, the constant movement of the windshield wipers irritates his troubled vision. The incident inspires him to create a wiper blade mechanism modeled on the human eye, which blinks every few seconds rather than continuously.