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Anchored in Des Moines; Serving the World’s Innovators

Protecting Innovations of Iowans

March 18, 2024

Each spring as farmers enter their fields, we are reminded of the importance of innovations by Iowans that better lives here and around the world:

  • Nobel Peace Prize laureate Norman Borlaug grew up in Cresco, became an agronomist, developed disease-resistant wheat varieties and is credited with saving the lives of more than one billion people across the world.
  • Victor native Jon Kinzenbaw founded Kinze Manufacturing out of his garage and grew a little welding business into one of the largest, privately held agricultural equipment manufacturers in North America.
  • Gary Vermeer created a mechanical hoist to ease unloading grain wagons during harvest, the first tree stump cutter, excavation machines and hay-harvesting products. Today, the company bearing his name — headquartered in Pella — holds scores of patents and markets 100 agricultural and industrial products worldwide.

You experience the application of the Iowa inventive spirit every time you eat a sandwich (Davenport native Otto Rohwedder invented the first automatic bread-slicing machine for commercial use.) or watch nighttime football and baseball (MUSCO Lighting has been illuminating sporting events around the world since 1976 from Oskaloosa).

Defending Patents + Trademarks

Every innovator must protect their ideas. Our law firm is honored to have worked with inventors to develop their intellectual property and defended patents and trademarks since 1924. We’ve successfully argued for Pioneer Hi-Bred before the U.S. Supreme Court. We represent the spectrum from invention to acquisition to enforcement to defense. We advise clients covering a broad spectrum of technologies and industries in 160 countries and are proud to have always been headquartered in Downtown Des Moines (DSM). For example, in agriculture alone, we work with innovations in seed genetics, planting, harvesting and processing, and the related science and engineering, such as biotechnology, mechanical, electrical, chemical and software.

The intellectual spark for innovations that we use every day often starts on university campuses — think the modern computer, conceived and first built by John Atanasoff and Clifford Berry in Ames nearly 90 years ago. We are fortunate that Iowa State University and the University of Iowa are nationally recognized leaders in innovation.

Moving viable concepts from the classroom to the marketplace often takes Technology Transfer, the process of transferring (disseminating) technology from the person or organization that owns or holds it (a professor or university) to another person or organization (a business or the marketplace), to transform critical discoveries, inventions and scientific outcomes into new products and services that benefit society. The process is often lengthy and involves teams of knowledgeable experts including the inventors; intellectual property lawyers; marketers and accountants offering guidance from pricing to promotion and placement; university leadership; and people with significant and specific business acumen.

Tech Transfer may be more prevalent today than ever because innovation has become more mainstream. Artificial Intelligence and other discoveries are truly changing our world by the day.

I am fortunate to practice at a firm positioned at the intersection of science and law. Hearing peoples’ ideas that they’ve kept close to themselves until ready to launch is something I do not take lightly, and I strive to match their enthusiasm with the best possible service. Our clients feel they have something that can better themselves, better their communities and better their world.

Our law firm’s journey began 100 years ago when Talbert Dick opened his firm in Downtown DSM in what is now the Surety Hotel. Talbert was a WWI pilot who became Iowa’s first patent attorney. He was also an inventor. He held the patent for the electric heating pad and first golf bag with legs. An Iowan who helped better our world in various ways.

I take great pride in being part of the largest Intellectual Property boutique law firm in Iowa. Like many central Iowa businesses, we are anchored in Iowa and serve the world.

The Greater Des Moines Partnership celebrates the Greater Des Moines (DSM) entrepreneur community and helps small businesses succeed with one-of-a-kind resources and opportunities for networking. Find out how other entrepreneurs have found success by reading their stories and attending local small business events in the region.

With the #7 Lowest Cost of Living in the U.S. and a Top Metro for Number of Economic Development Projects (among metros with a population of 200,000 to 1 million), Greater Des Moines (DSM) is a region where you can have it all. Learn more about what it’s like to live here.

Luke T. Mohrhauser

Luke Mohrhauser is Managing Partner of McKee, Voorhees & Sease law firm. His practice includes all areas of intellectual property, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and licensing. Luke specializes in patent prosecution in the mechanical, electrical, software and business method arts on a global scale.