A Patent for Ether
Hoping to profit from the discovery of the administration of ether in surgery, Morton, in conjunction with Jackson, executed papers on October 27 to patent the process. The patent (No. 4818, for “Improvement in Surgical Operations”) was granted on November 12 for a fourteen-year period. According to the patent,
It has never to our knowledge been known until our discovery that the inhalation of such vapors (particularly those of sulphuric ether) would produce insensibility to pain, or such a state of quiet of nervous action as to render a person or animal incapable to a great extent, if not entirely, of experiencing pain while under the action of the knife…. This is our discovery, and the combining it with or applying it to any operation of surgery for the purpose of alleviating animal suffering… constitutes our invention.
Jackson subsequently assigned all his right and interest to Morton in exchange for a bond giving him ten percent of the proceeds of the sale of licenses. On December 14, Morton then ceded to Massachusetts General Hospital the right “to use the discovery above mentioned for the benefit of indigent patients, the sick and suffering poor, and other persons at the institution.”