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Patenting Green Earthen Plaster Formulation - American Clay Enterprises

Green building and green business involves intellectual property management -- patents, etc. Here's a case study in how and why a patent and a family developed together.

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American Clay Enterprises, Inc., is proud of their new patent: US Patent No. 7,485,186 B2.

Patent for Earthen Plaster Formulation

While the company has additional patents pending, this patent relates to the earthen plaster formulation--created by CEO and co-Founder Croft Elsaesser--comprised of various clays, aggregates, and optionally fibers, and applications thereof.

The patent was issued on Feb. 3, 2009, providing the company the right to exclude others from making, using, selling or importing their invention from that date.

Invention Is a Family Affair

With this first patent under his belt, Elsaesser officially inherits the inventor title from his grandfather, Edward M. Sorensen, who held 21 patents and whose key creations are still in use today.

Being awarded a patent in the natural products plasters arena is rare, with a few related patents being issued between 1924 and 1932, and then not again until 2000, the most recent one prior to American Clay's.

"Creating a greater focus within the natural products segment is an important goal, and I am excited to contribute to the growth," says Elsaesser. "I look forward to driving other innovations that will contribute additional natural solutions."

Both Elsaesser and his grandfather, Edward M. Sorensen, are products of their times and both saw what was missing and needed. Elsaesser began directing his energies to natural materials when he moved into home construction and plastering 13 years ago.

First, the Problem -- Then the Solution

Before creating American Clay, Elsaesser suffered from chronic headaches and breathing problems, symptoms of what experts started to realize was due to toxic substances in finishes, and finally dubbed "sick building syndrome". With the creation of the all-natural earth plaster, people could work (and live) in a healthy environment. Additionally, he wanted to create an easy-to-use and highly-consistent material. He applied for a provisional patent in 2002.

Entrepreneurship is Also a Family Affair

Sorensen held over 20 patents, the first of which were focused on sonar and radio remote control elements which propelled him in 1940 to create his own company: Sorensen & Co in Norwalk, CT. His voltage regulator patent is still in use through Raytheon, as are the basics of his radio remote controls. He also created cathode tubes for RCA in 1944. When he died in June 1946 in a private airplane crash, his high-school educated wife Helen S. Sorensen took the company over, running it successfully for seven years. In 1947, she was named the Female Tycoon of the NY Metropolitan Area by Robert Rourk of the New York Herald Tribune.

"Croft's achievement is all the more wonderful because of this connection to my father's creativity and playful approach to 'stuff!'" says Carol Baumgartel, who is Elsaesser's mother, as well as American Clay co-Founder and VP of Marketing. "It's quite moving to know that both my father and my son have given something to the world which enhances the quality of people's lives. My father would be so proud."

About American Clay Enterprises, LLC:

American Clay produces patented, award-winning, all-natural interior wall finishing products. Their Earth Plasters and the commercial ENJARRE single coat plaster are a unique combination of clays, aggregates and natural pigments that offer builders and consumers a natural and elegant option.
  • There is no off-gassing nor inherent waste on-site
  • The plasters contain zero VOCs
  • Are non-flammable
  • Are mold resisting (without toxic fungicides)
  • Absorb odors
  • Provide temperature and humidity buffering,
  • Repair/clean easily
  • Come in recyclable packaging

American Clay is uniquely manufactured in and made of materials found in the U.S. Their product and various workshops are available through their New Mexico office or through one of the growing number of retailers and distributors across the U.S. The website,, offers information on products, ordering, technical specifications, product application and additional resources and links.

Edited by Carolyn Allen
| green products | paint | green building |


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