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Wiping with Patents: From Mary Anderson to Telsa

by: Dan Spaeth, Senior Managing Partner, IP Advisory

First Windshield Wipers

In 1903 Mary Anderson, a real estate developer and inventor from Greene County, AL, was granted a patent for the first windshield wiper. She appears to not have profited from her invention and after it expired in 1920, the auto industry adopted her basic design as standard equipment.

Many iterations and decades later, what's left to invent in the windshield wiper space?

Enter Tesla

Nearly 116 years later with patent application US20190270431A1 dated September 5, 2019 for "An electromagnetic wiper system for a windshield of a vehicle includes a linear actuator, a wiper-arrangement, and control circuitry." Is this new technology something that will resonate with customers? Will Tesla's patent application result in a granted patent and how will it play out in the auto and other industries? Who has similar technology and patents? Better yet, what could Mary Anderson have done different with respect to commercializing her brilliant invention?

 
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