Thomas Midgely, Jr.'s hands were in two of the most detrimental scientific breakthroughs of the 20th century: the proliferation of leaded gasoline and the use of Freon (a chlorofluorocarbon) as a household refrigerant.

Recently a colleague suggested that there was another inventor or team working on a household refrigerant alternative at the same time as Midgley and his team, and that both were working to beat the other to patent their solution first.

I have spent a great deal of time researching Midgley and his legacy, and I never saw any mention of a 'race to the patent office.'

Is there any truth to this assertion? At the very least, was there even another team working on a solution?

  • It doesn't make much sense: if they were two different methods, as you suggest, then the patent office should have accepted both.
    – o0'.
    Apr 3, 2012 at 15:53
  • The 'race' would be to patent a solution FIRST, as it could be more profitable/marketable.
    – stevvve
    Apr 3, 2012 at 18:30
  • then it would actually be a race to ship a product first, not to submit a patent. Unless their business plan was to only earn money via royalties, and not to actually sell the finished product.
    – o0'.
    Apr 3, 2012 at 18:32
  • 1
    Hmm...maybe. I think we're moving away from the heart of the question: was there another team working on a solution? After considering editing the post, I think the current title speaks to the 'was there another team?' end. Edited the post itself to emphasize this.
    – stevvve
    Apr 3, 2012 at 18:39
  • Much better now, I'll see if this answer (with its comments) can be converted to a comment then, since it no longer applies but is still relevant.
    – o0'.
    Apr 3, 2012 at 18:47


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