Kirk M. Hartung

Kirk specializes in patent protection for agricultural implements, consumer appliances, medical devices and equipment, sports products, and mechanical inventions, as well as infringement analysis, strategic positioning, trademark protection, trade secret and copyright evaluations, and related matters. Services include patentability analysis, patent prosecution, patent infringement analysis, and trademark advice and registration. He also provides litigation support on all intellectual property issues.

Kirk received a degree in industrial engineering from Iowa State University and a law degree from the University of Iowa College of Law. Kirk joined McKee, Voorhees & Sease in 1982. He is a patent attorney registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Kirk has written and published a number of articles and law reviews on intellectual property law and speaks across the world on important intellectual property issues. He was the Chair of the Advisory Board (2017-2019) for LEGUS International Network Of Law Firms with over 70 law firm members around the globe.

Civically minded, Kirk has been actively involved in the Des Moines YMCA Camp Board of Managers since 1982 and has been a Chair of the Board twice. He’s currently a Board Member for the Highland Memory Gardens; Des Moines YMCA Camp Annual Campaign Chair; and the University of Iowa College of Law Annual Campaign. Previously, he’s been a Past Chair, Co-Chair, or Board Member in the following organizations: the Iowa State Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, Saydel Community School District, Iowa Intellectual Property Law Association, Iowa State Bar Association Intellectual Property Law Section, Iowa State Bar Association Annual Meeting Committee, Iowa State Bar Associate Quality of Life Task Force, Des Moines YMCA Camp Capital Campaign, Highland Memory Gardens, Des Moines YMCA Camp Annual Campaign , the University of Iowa College of Law Annual Campaign, and the Iowa State University Alumni Marching Band. Kirk is also a Co-Founder of the Iowa State University Alumni Band.

Kirk enjoys volunteering and has been recognized for his time and talent given to our community, including the Iowa State Bar Association Young Lawyers Division Award of Merit, the YMCA of Greater Des Moines Service to Youth Award, the Iowa State University Alumni Band Noteworthy Service Award, the Des Moines YMCA Camp Annual Campaign Spirit Award, and has been two-time Des Moines YMCA Camp Volunteer of the Year.

  • Copyright and Media Law
  • Design Patents
  • Electrical Patents
  • Licensing
  • Litigation
  • Mechanical Patents
  • Software & Business Methods Patents
  • Trade Secrets
  • Trademarks
  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Agritech
  • Construction and Infrastructure
  • Consumer Products and Technology
  • Food and Beverage Technologies
  • Lighting
  • Medical Devices

Professional Associations

LEGUS International Network Of Law Firms

Education

University of Iowa College of Law, J.D.

Iowa State University, B.S., Industrial Engineering

Articles

“Protecting Your Company’s Innovations”, ExecSense, Jan. 2013.

“Claim Preambles: Unnecessary Matters of Chance and Confusion” The Journal of the Patent & Trademark Office Society, Vol. 93, No. 3, 2011.

“Claim Construction: Another Matter of Chance and Confusion”, The Journal of Patent and Trademark Office Society, Vol. 88, No. 10, Oct. 2006.

“The Doctrine of Equivalents: A Matter of Chance and Confusion”, Journal of the Patent and Trademark Office Society, Vol. 86, No. 8. August, 2004.

“Copyright Law and Education Use of Copyrighted Materials”, Iowa Association of School Boards, May 1, 1996.

“COPYRIGHTS”, Iowa State Bar Association Annual Meeting, 1990.

“How To Avoid Increased Damages and Attorneys’ Fees: The Duties Of The Accused Infringer And The Patent Owner”, The John Marshall Law Review, Spring 1987, volume 20, no. 3.

“Prior Art”: The Undefined Key To § 103 of The 1952 Patent Act”, Drake Law Review, 1982-83, volume 32, no. 3.

Presentations

Motivational Leadership 2017, 2018

Responding to 101 Rejections 2017

Protecting Your Innovations 2017

Creating a Perfect Law Firm, LEGUS 2017

Patent Office Burden of Proof for Obviousness 2016

World Class Client Service 2016

Client Development, Maintenance & Management 2015

Building Self Esteem in Yourself and in Others, Drake Leadership institute, 2014

Trade Secret Protection, 2014

Overcoming 102 and 103 Rejections 2013

PTO Obviousness Guidelines After KSR 2012

The 3 P’s of Trademarks: Picking, Protecting, and Policing

Working Effectively and Efficiently 2012

Intellectual Property 101, 2012

Claim Preambles: Unnecessary Matters of Chance and Confusion 2012

Intellectual Property Issues of Innovation, 2008

Expect the Unexpected: Top 10 Unknown Issues When Applying for a Patent – Wisconsin Inventor’s Conference 2007

Patents: Application Options 2006

Ethics and conflicts 2006

Claim Construction: Another Matter of Chance and Confusion, 2006

The Doctrine of Equivalents: Another Matter of Chance and Confusion 2004

Investigating Intellectual Property on the Internet 2002

Blog Posts

Supreme Court Passes on 101 Patent Eligibility – January 14, 2020

SUPREME COURT DENIES USPTO ATTORNEY FEES UNDER 35 USC 145 – December 20, 2019

Faster Patent Application Examinations for 2019 – October 11, 2019

A Simple Fix to §101 with Arbitration – October 3, 2019

Patent Judges Agree that Patent Eligibility Law Needs Fixing: Part 2 – August 14, 2019

Patent Judges Agree that Patent Eligibility Law Needs Fixing: Part 1 -August 8, 2019

3 Reasons to Build your Patent Portfolio – July 31, 2019

First Draft from Congress on Section 101 Reform – May 23, 2019

Markman for §101 Eligibility – April 18, 2019

Judicial Exceptions to IP Statutes: Are They Dead? – March 22, 2019

Congress Considers a Patent Eligibility Overhaul – February 27, 2019

Protecting Creativity by Artificial Intelligence: Part 3 – February 6, 2019

Protecting Creativity by Artificial Intelligence: Part 2 – January 30, 2019

Protecting Creativity by Artificial Intelligence: Part 1 January 23, 2019

Palm Restaurant Dispute Leads to Big Monetary Damages – November 27, 2018

Coffee by Drone Delivery – November 15, 2018

Patent Eligibility: Hope from the PTO Director – September 25, 2018

Federal Circuit Judge Calls for a Fix to the “Abstract Idea” Mess: Part 4 – August 16, 2018

Federal Circuit Judge Calls for a Fix to the “Abstract Idea” Mess: Part 3 – August 8, 2018

Federal Circuit Judge Calls for a Fix to the “Abstract Idea” Mess: Part 2 – July 25, 2018

Federal Circuit Judge Calls for a Fix to the “Abstract Idea” Mess: Part 1 – July 24, 2018

U.S. Patent Number 10 Million – June 26, 2018

Fraudulent Invention Development Company Banned – June 6, 2018

Federal Circuit Judges Encourage Congress to Act on Patent Eligibility – June 5, 2018

World Intellectual Property Day 2018 – April 27, 2018

Patent Office Director Pledges Improvements to U.S. Patents – April 19, 2018

Protecting Concepts: The Best in Their Businesses Do Battle – April 5, 2018

Patent Proposals in Congress – March 21, 2018

Time to Consider Patent Protection in China – February 13, 2018

Protecting Your Company’s Innovations – February 2, 2018

U.S.P.T.O. Remains Open – January 22, 2018

Bar & Court Admissions

Iowa State Bar

United States Patent and Trademark Office

U.S. Southern and Northern Districts of Iowa

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

U.S. Supreme Court.

Awards & Recognition

Kirk enjoys volunteering and has been recognized for his time and talent given to our community, including the Iowa State Bar Association Young Lawyers Division Award of Merit, the YMCA of Greater Des Moines Service to Youth Award, the Iowa State University Alumni Band Noteworthy Service Award, the Des Moines YMCA Camp Annual Campaign Spirit Award, and has been two-time Des Moines YMCA Camp Volunteer of the Year.

UK Court Decision: Artificial Intelligence Machine Is Not An Inventor

DABUS, the artificial intelligence machine named as the sole inventor on two UK patent applications, has been denied the status of inventor by the Patent Court of the High Court of Justice of England and Wales.  In an appeal from the UK Patent Office by the applicant, Stephen Thaler, the Court ruled on September 21, […]

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Gore-Tex Inventor Passes Away

Robert W. Gore, who invented the waterproof material called Gore-Tex, passed away on September 17, 2020.  Gore was born in 1937 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  He earned a bachelors degree in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware in 1959, and received master and PhD degrees in Chem E from the University of Minnesota […]

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PIXEL PIONEER PASSES

The computer scientist who created the pixel in 1957 passed away on August 11 in Portland, Oregon. Russell Kirsch was 91 years old.  His first digital image using pixels was a 2”x 2” black and white photo of his three month old son, with only 30,976 total pixels (176 per side).  In comparison, cell phone […]

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Bayh-Dole Act Turns 40

The Patent and Trademark Law Amendments Act, commonly known as the Bayh-Dole Act, was passed by Congress in 1980.  The primary sponsors were Senators Birch Bayh (D. Indiana) and Senator Robert Dole (R. Kansas).  This act relates to research funded by the federal government.  Prior to passage of the Act, inventions developed with federal dollars […]

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Artificial Intelligence and WIPO

On May 21, the World Intellectual Property Organization, a global forum for IP services, policy, information and cooperation, issued a revised paper on intellectual property policy and artificial intelligence (AI).  Acknowledging that AI is a general purpose technology that has widespread applications, WIPO held an initial “conversation” with interested parties in September, 2019.  WIPO then […]

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Open Covid IP Pledge

The Open Covid Pledge is a recent initiative to assist in finding solutions to the corona virus. In essence, companies that sign on to the pledge agree to provide royalty free, limited time licenses to their intellectual property, so that others may research, develop, use, and make publicly available technology that may fight the corona […]

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Iconic Green Jacket Is A Golf Trophy and A Registered Trademark

The famous green sports coat given each year to the winner of the prestigious Masters golf tournament is now a registered trademark. On March 3, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued registration number 6000045 to Augusta National, Inc., which filed the registration application on  February 21, 2019.  The mark includes three gold buttons on […]

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Early Computer Programming Guru Passes Away

The inventor of the ubiquitous “cut- copy- paste” function for digital documents, Larry Tesler, passed away on Feb. 16 at the age of 74 at his home in Portola Valley, California. Tesler, who grew up in the Bronx, became interested in computers in the 1950’s, as a new emerging technology, when he saw them as […]

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2019 U.S. Patents Hit All Time High

he U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a record number of patents in 2019.  The 333,350 patents granted in 2019 was a 15% increase over 2018.  As usual, IBM led the way with 9,262 new patents in 2019.  This is the 27th consecutive year that IBM was the #1 patentee for U.S. patents.  The other top […]

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U.S. and Mexico Patent Offices to Collaborate

Yesterday, January 28,2020, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI) signed an agreement which is expected to expedite issuance of patents in Mexico for owners of US patents.  The two agencies will now cooperate in a process that lets the IMPI have access to USPTO examination […]

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Supreme Court Passes on 101 Patent Eligibility

On January 13, the US Supreme Court denied the petition for certiorari by Athena Diagnostics seeking the highest Court’s review of patent eligibility under 35. USC 101. The petition relates to the en banc decision by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Athena Diagnostics v. Mayo on July 3, 2019, wherein the appellate Court […]

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SUPREME COURT DENIES USPTO ATTORNEY FEES UNDER 35 USC 145

On December 11, 2019, the US Supreme Court ruled against the US Patent & Trademark Office’s recent practice of demanding its attorney fees for patent applications appealed to the U.S. District Court, regardless of whether the Patent Office won or lost.  See Peter v. Nantkwest, Inc., No. 18-801. 35 U.S.C. 145 provides that a patent applicant dissatisfied […]

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Faster Patent Application Examinations for 2019

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has been working for many years to improve patent examination times. Processing and examining patent applications in a high quality and timely manner has been an important aspect of the USPTO 2018-2022 Strategic Plan. For the 2019 fiscal year ending in September, the USPTO has met their goal for […]

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A Simple Fix to §101 with Arbitration

This summer’s decision by the Federal Circuit in Athena Diagnostics, Inc. v. Mayo Collaborative Services, LLC, highlights the consensus that something needs to be done regarding the current state of the law of patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C §101. In particular, the judicially created exceptions to patentability under 101 are laws of nature, natural phenomena, […]

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Patent Judges Agree that Patent Eligibility Law Needs Fixing: Part 1

On July 3, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued an interesting, though not surprising, opinion discussing patent eligibility for inventions and discoveries. In Athena Diagnostics, Inc. v. Mayo Collaborative Services, LLC, all 12 judges of the Court considered whether the full court should rehear an appeal of a patent regarding […]

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3 Reasons to Build your Patent Portfolio

A strong patent portfolio provides many benefits to the owner. Patents are an asset that have value, and that value can come in different forms. 1. Patents force competitors to design around the patented invention. As your company spends resources, including time and money, in research and development (R & D), the resulting inventions are […]

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First Draft from Congress on Section 101 Reform

 On Wednesday May 22, 2019, the Senate and House Subcommittees on Intellectual Property released for comment their initial draft of legislative reform for Section 101 of the patent statutes. The biggest focus of this proposed legislation is an abolishment of the Supreme Court’s judicially created exceptions to patent eligibility, namely, abstract ideas, laws of nature, […]

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Markman for §101 Eligibility

Patent attorneys know the importance of Markman as applied to interpret patent claims. Claim interpretation is critical to infringement and validity analysis, and often is decisive in patent litigation. It is axiomatic that claim terms be construed using the common, ordinary meaning of the words, as understood by a person having ordinary skill in the […]

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Judicial Exceptions to IP Statutes: Are They Dead?

On January 8, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court decided a case involving the Federal Arbitration Act that could have a significant impact on patent law. The Arbitration Act, signed into law in 1925, allows parties to agree to submit disputes to arbitration, rather than litigating in court. Although, sometimes parties disagree as to whether an arbitration […]

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Congress Considers a Patent Eligibility Overhaul

Some members of Congress have met at least twice to discuss the current difficulties and frustrations with patent eligibility under Section 101 of the patent statutes. While these meetings have been closed-door, attorneys and others representing businesses and industries, have attended. These meetings, in December of 2018 and February of 2019, have been initialed by […]

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Protecting Creativity by Artificial Intelligence: Part 3

Artificial intelligence (AI) inventions and discoveries discussed in part 2 of this blog series, which may be protectable with patents, are only one form of creativity by computers. AI can also generate written documents, music, and other creative works of authorship. See for example, CLOEM and AllTheClaims.com. Even software now exists that allows computers to […]

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Protecting Creativity by Artificial Intelligence: Part 2

U.S. Patent laws usually have two objectives: 1) To disclose inventions for the benefit of mankind; and 2) To incentivize inventors and investors. Thus, patent protection serves a social benefit and a personal benefit. Currently, thousands of patent applications are being filed in the U.S. Patent Office for inventions directed to AI, and despite the […]

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Protecting Creativity by Artificial Intelligence: Part 1

Artificial intelligence has progressed to a state where, based upon software and algorithms written by humans, the computer itself can solve problems and discover new and better ways to accomplish desired results. Artificial intelligence is being used in many industries, including agriculture, education, manufacturing, and medicine. The inventions and creations of the computer itself, rather […]

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Palm Restaurant Dispute Leads to Big Monetary Damages

A lawsuit filed in New York State court in 2012 on behalf of minority shareholders of the famous Palm Restaurant has a recent court decision awarding over $71 million to the plaintiffs against defendants for breach of fiduciary duty. This dispute among family members is premised upon 54 undervalued intellectual property licenses and a reasonable […]

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Coffee by Drone Delivery

The use of drones in various business applications is becoming common. For example, drones with cameras are used to inspect farm crops, to search natural disaster areas, to provide news coverage,  and to make Hollywood films.  Historical business are being reinvented and new businesses are being developed by the use of these unmanned aerial vehicles. […]

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Patent Eligibility: Hope from the PTO Director

On Monday, September 24th, the Director of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, Andrei Iancu, stated in a speech to the Intellectual Property Owners Association that his agency is working on new guidelines that address the “mushed up” and “muddled” case law on patent eligibility under 35 USC 101. Once again, Iancu has acknowledged that […]

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U.S. Patent Number 10 Million

Last week, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) reached a new milestone, with issuance of patent number 10 million. This patent is entitled Coherent LADAR Using Intra-Pixel Quadrature Detection, and relates to a laser detection system for various industries, such as medical imaging and autonomous vehicles. The patent is owned by Raytheon Company, of […]

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Fraudulent Invention Development Company Banned

Last month, the Federal Trade Commission announced the settlement of a lawsuit against an invention development company which permanently enjoins the company from further business due to fraudulent and deceitful conduct with inventors. Scott Cooper and his companies, World Patent Marketing and Desa Industries, Inc., used bogus success stories to get clients to pay thousands […]

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World Intellectual Property Day 2018

On World Intellectual Property day (April 26), President Trump proclaimed his administration’s goal of improving intellectual property rights in the United States. This is similar to the pledge earlier this month by the new director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Andrei Iancu, in his recent speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to […]

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Patent Office Director Pledges Improvements to U.S. Patents

In a speech to the US Chamber of Commerce, the newly appointed head of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Andrei Iancu, expressed his concern over the current state of the U.S. patent system, and pledged to make improvements within the Patent Office to strengthen and increase predictability.  New laws, courts decisions, and negative commentary […]

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Protecting Concepts: The Best in Their Businesses Do Battle

Basketball superstar Lebron James has challenged perennial college football power Alabama over a sports talk show staged in a barbershop. During last year’s NBA finals, James’ multi-media business, Uninterrupted, premiered its show “The Shop” on ESPN featuring James and other professional players discussing basketball in a barbershop. Alabama recently promoted its show “Shop Talk,” which […]

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Patent Proposals in Congress

Since the creation of patent reviews at the Patent Office Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) by the America Invents Act of 2011, a very high percentage of reviewed patents have been declared invalid. Now, a bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives which could change these statistics. The bill also could revive issuance […]

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Time to Consider Patent Protection in China

In the past decade, the Chinese government has made substantial policy changes regarding protection for intellectual property, both for obtaining rights and enforcing rights. These policies are generally favorable to patent owners and are intended to incentivize innovation. In December, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) published statistics for worldwide patent application filings for 2016, […]

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Protecting Your Company’s Innovations

In 2017, over 600,000 patent applications were filed with the U.S. Patent Office, the most in its history. Clearly, a business plan for intellectual property may provide substantial value to your company, or you may be leaving substantial value on the table. Failure to plan is, in essence, a plan to fail. A thorough plan, […]

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U.S.P.T.O. Remains Open

Despite the shutdown of a significant portion of the federal government, the United States Patent and Trademark Office will remain open, at least for the short term.This government agency is self-funded through user fees, and therefore will continue business as usual for the next two weeks. If the government shutdown continues into February, the PTO […]

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