Clocks and Calendars, 1220 COBJ, Vol. 49, No. 11 Pg. 18

PositionVol. 49, 11 [Page 18]

49 Colo.Law. 18

Clocks and Calendars

Vol. 49, No. 11 [Page 18]

Colorado Lawyer

December, 2020



I am now approaching the 30th anniversary of one of my unique client meetings. The client is David "Crawdad" Kendrick, and he lives in a cabin off the grid in upstate New York. How far off the grid? For starters, he has no indoor plumbing, electricity, or telephone. When he wants to take a bath, his first step is to collect wood so he can heat the water in his outdoor bathtub.

Crawdad had an invention that seemed as strange as his lifestyle. It was a wristwatch that ran backward.

"You know," he said, "people take time for granted. If they knew how much time was left in their life, I think they would more mindful of many things they do every day. Sol invented a wristwatch that the user sets according to actuarial tables. And every time the wearer does something harmful or risky, like smoke a cigarette or schedule a parachute jump out of an airplane, he can decrease time on his watch to reflect the amount of time left in his life."

Crawdad had an invention that seemed as strange as his lifestyle. It was a wristwatch that ran backward.

The watch could be set not only to estimate the wearer's date of death, but any date in the future, such as when a person is planning to retire or get married or have a baby. Needless to say, I was intrigued by the client and the concept. I filed a patent application in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Apparently, the patent examiner assigned to that case was also impressed, as I received a notice of allowance in three weeks. (The response time to receive a notice of allowance for most patent applications can be as long as 22 months.) The patent issued as U.S. Patent No. 5,031,161.

Shortly thereafter, the New York Times printed an announcement about the unusual patent and Diane Sawyer of ABC Evening News called him, which was no mean feat, since he still didn't have a telephone. Ms. Sawyer's producer located his brother, however, and left a message. Some 50 letters arrived at Crawdad's cabin in the following months. A Swedish television crew wanted to fly to America to interview him. A federal prison wanted to order watches for its prisoners on death row. Crawdad received inquiries from insurance companies and the AARP.

Everyone wanted to see a working model or prototype but, unfortunately, Crawdad lacked the $30,000...

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