X-Message-Number: 18461
Date: Fri, 1 Feb 2002 16:18:05 EST
Subject: patents

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Kennita Watson expressed surprise that the cryonics organizations don't have 
patents. I'm not sure why she is surprised, but briefly:

Patents are expensive and of uncertain value for several reasons which are 
more or less obvious. Among them is the question of novelty:

"The subject matter sought to be patented must be sufficiently different from 
what has been used or described before that it may be said to be nonobvious 
to a person having ordinary skill in the area of technology related to the 

Clearly, this leaves a huge gray area. In cryobiology, for example, there are 
thousands of possible improvements that ARE obvious to everyone--i.e., the 
possibility of improvement is obvious. It could be just a relatively small 
change in composition of CPA, and the only way to tell is by trial and error. 
But if the patent office will grant a patent just in recognition of your 
labor in testing some mixtures, that would appear to mean that a similar 
small variation should also be patentable, making each such individual 
variation almost worthless as an exclusive right. There could be many 
variations of similar value. In the medical field, there are many drugs that 
do the same job in slightly different ways and with slightly different 
efficaciousness, and they just fragment the market at great expense--but it's 
a huge market, which cryonics is not. Of course, I am not an attorney, much 
less a patent attorney.

A cryobiologist we all know has at least one patent, relating to high pressu
re methods in cryobiology. Others also have similar patents. As far as I 
know, none has proven valuable, either commercially or in any other way. 
Knowledge was gained in the research, but the patent didn't affect that. My 
impression is that most patents are a waste of time and money.

CI has designed and built cryostats of new types. We didn't patent them 
because, among other things, protection would be doubtful and the market 
small. We have freely given the information to others in cryonics.

Dr. Pichugin's current work is another story, and we are keeping in mind the 
possibility of patent applications. 

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society



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