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Inventor of self-cleaning home, and former Klarquist client, passes away at 101

Frances Gabe, an Oregon inventor and former Klarquist client, was profiled in a New York Times article earlier this week. Ms. Gabe passed away on December 26, 2016 at the age of 101.

The Times article is a fascinating profile of a truly unique woman that invented and constructed a self-cleaning house. Ms. Gabe’s invention and home were featured in many major newspapers and magazines in the 1980s and 90s, including the New York Times, The Guardian, and People Magazine.

According to the Times article, the idea for her self-cleaning house arose when Ms. Gabe decided to clean fig jam from the wall of her home with a garden hose. Taking that idea to the next level, Ms. Gabe converted her own home in Newberg, Oregon, into a working (mostly, at least) self-cleaning home. A video from 1990, by KGW News, shows Ms. Gabe’s self-cleaning home in action.

Ms. Gabe also patented her invention. In 1980, nearly forty years ago, Klarquist filed a patent application on her behalf disclosing a complex home-cleaning system that included:

  • Spray devices suspended from the ceiling that delivered water and detergent to the floors, walls, and surfaces in between;
  • Sloped floors and drainage systems; and
  • Heated air for drying the home after cleaning.

The figure below is of a floor plan for a self-cleaning building construction that was disclosed in the issued patent.

Although Ms. Gabe’s invention received much publicity, it never became a commercial reality. I think it’s fair to say, however, that many of us would love to see her vision for reduced housework realized someday. Until then, the “Background” description in her patent will remain generally true:

Although the average home or building is provided with various laborsaving devices, very little progress has been made toward automation of the basic cleaning of the building itself. Thus, cleaning of wall, floor and window surfaces as well as counter tops, table tops, plumbing appliances and the like involves a great deal of hand labor, with the basic cleaning functions consuming a considerable proportion of the average homemaker’s time. In addition, appreciable time is expended in the washing of clothing, dishes, and the like even with the aid of conventional apparatus designed for the purpose.

Our condolences to the family of Ms. Gabe on her passing.


Posted on 7/20/2017 by Deakin Lauer


In a sea of orange, Oregon State University finds blue

Oregon State University is well known for its orange and black “Beaver Nation” brand.  Recently, however, it’s also been getting a lot of attention for its work with the color blue.

OSU professors Mas Subramanian and Arthur Sleight, and graduate student Andrew Smith, discovered a brilliant blue pigment while studying metal oxide compounds.

OSU blue

In October 2012, OSU obtained patent protection for its novel composition, and the blue pigment is back in the news now because OSU recently licensed the technology to the Shepherd Color Company.

Gillian Gardner, a patent agent at Klarquist Sparkman, LLP, worked on the patent application for OSU.

“At Klarquist, we see a lot of very impressive technological developments from the scientists and engineers at OSU.  Many are truly groundbreaking and are important to the industries for which they have been developed.  This invention was all of that, but it was also beautiful.  Since then, I’ve often thought that I should have asked for a sample to keep on my desk.  It was the most stunning shade of blue.”  – Gillian Gardner, Klarquist Sparkman, LLP

Another interesting aspect of this story is that the discovery of the blue pigment was largely accidental.

“Basically, this was an accidental discovery. We were exploring manganese oxides for some interesting electronic properties they have, something that can be both ferroelectric and ferromagnetic at the same time. Our work had nothing to do with looking for a pigment.  Then one day a graduate student who is working in the project was taking samples out of a very hot furnace while I was walking by, and it was blue, a very beautiful blue.  I realized immediately that something amazing had happened.”  – Mas Subramanian, OSU Department of Chemistry (quote from 2009 OSU press release)


Posted on 07/15/2016 by Deakin T. Lauer


Adidas files three IPR petitions challenging Nike patents

On April 19, 2016, Adidas filed three petitions for inter partes review of Nike patents by the USPTO. The three related patents relate to footwear and methods of manufacturing footwear, particular textile structures. Below is a table showing Claim 1 of each of the Nike patents.


US Patent No. 8,266,749 1. A method of manufacturing an article of footwear, the method comprising:simultaneously knitting a textile element with a surrounding textile structure, the knitted textile element having at least one knitted texture that differs from a knitted texture in the surrounding knitted textile structure;

removing the knitted textile element from the surrounding knitted textile structure;

incorporating the knitted textile element into the article of footwear.


US Patent No. 8,042,288 1. An article of footwear comprising:an upper incorporating a circular-knitted textile element having a plurality of knit constructions, the circular-knitted textile element being removed from a circular-knitted textile structure, and further having longitudinal edges that are joined together to define at least a portion of a void for receiving a foot; and

a sole structure secured to the upper.


US Patent No. 7,814,598 1. A method of manufacturing an article of footwear, the method comprising steps of:mechanically-manipulating a yarn with a circular knitting machine to form a cylindrical textile structure;

removing at least one textile element from the textile structure;

incorporating the textile element into an upper of the article of footwear.


The three patents at issue are related to another patent, US Patent No. 7,347,011, which was previously challenged by Adidas in a different IPR proceeding. The IPR decision in that proceeding resulted in a Federal Circuit decision that discusses how amended claims are to be treated in IPR proceedings, including who has the burden of demonstrating patentability of substitute claims (the Patentee) and what prior art the patentee must distinguish in order to be entitled to introduce substitute claims (all prior art of record and known to Patentee, but only if material to patentability).


Posted on 04/19/2016 by Deakin T. Lauer

Patent Grants To Oregon Inventors On The Rise

Since the turn of the century, there has been a steady increase in the number of patent applications filed and granted in the United States. Oregon is no exception. As shown in the above graph, just since 2002, the number of patents granted to Oregon inventors* has increased by nearly 63 percent. In 2002, the first year for which the PTO provides such statistics by state, 1,716 patents were granted to Oregon inventors. By 2015, that number had increased by over 1000 to 2,796 granted patents.


Oregon patent chart


The increase in “Oregon patents” over a longer period is even more striking. According to the PTO records, from 1977 to 2001, 17,836 patents were granted to Oregon inventors, an average of just over 700 patents a year. By 2015, that number had almost quadrupled!

*As determined by the residence of the first-named inventors. Includes utility patents, design patents, plant patents, reissue patents, and SIRs/defensive publications. Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office website at: http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/ido/oeip/taf/cst_all.htm


Posted on 03/01/2016 by Deakin T. Lauer and Derrick W. Toddy