Patricia A. Sweeney – Of Counsel

Pat Sweeney is an Intellectual Property Attorney with over 30 years experience in obtaining patent protection and counseling clients on intellectual property matters. Since 1986, she has worked with clients ranging from small start-up companies to multinational corporations in the biological science field through development of intellectual property strategy, building patent portfolios and prosecuting patents, competitive analysis, licensing and other transactional intellectual property matters. Her experience includes the fields of biotechnology, plant biology, agriculture, biofuels, veterinary and human biologics.

Pat was the first female patent attorney in Iowa, beginning her practice at the firm in 1985. She then joined Pioneer Hi-Bred International as Intellectual Property Counsel and became Chief Patent Counsel before returning to private practice. After graduating from law school, Pat was law clerk for the Chief Judge of the Iowa Appeals Court followed by working as an assistant county attorney.

Pat was awarded her law degree, with honors, Order of the Coif, from Drake University Law School and has a double major in Botany and Journalism from Iowa State University. She is an arbitrator with the American Arbitration Association. Pat was recognized as a Top Rated Intellectual Property Attorney in Des Moines, Iowa by Super Lawyers in 2018.

  • Biotechnology Patents
  • Licensing
  • Trade Secrets
  • Academic Research and Technology Transfer
  • Agritech
  • Animal Health
  • Food and Beverage Technologies

Professional Associations

American Intellectual Property Bar Association

American Bar Association

Iowa State Bar Association


Drake University Law School, J.D., with Honors, 1984

Iowa State University, B.S., Botany and Journalism, 1978

Publications & Presentations

“The Changing Face of Patenting and Biological and Biotechnology Inventions – Impact of New Patent Reform Laws and Court Decisions” Various seminars for
corporate counsel, officers and scientists 2012.

“A short primer on patenting issues for scientists” Seminar for research scientists at Arkansas Biosciences Institute, 2009.

“Intellectual Policies for Biotechnology Companies” Iowa Biotechnology Conference, 2004.

“A Warehouse of Ideas: Developing and Using Intellectual Property” Plants as Factories for Protein Production, Hood and Howard, eds., Kluwer Academic
Publishers, pp181-207 (2002).

“The American Inventors Protection Act: A Review of the New Law and How It Impacts You” Annual IIPLA Conference, October, 2000.

“Getting the DNA into Plants: Challenges in the Intellectual Property Arena” Agra/Industrial Biotechnology Legal Letter April 2000.

“Genetic Patenting and IP Challenges and Opportunities – How to Conduct R&D and Information Control to Maximize the Potential Profit and Protection of New Discoveries” IBC BioTherapeutics ’99 Conference, October, 1999.

“Controversial Issues in Ag-biotech Internationally” BIO International Biotechnology Meeting, June, 1996.

“Biotech Patent Update – A Review of Developments in Patent Law Impacting Biotechnology in 1994-1995” ATCC Biotech Patent Forum, August 1995.

“How to Maximize the Value of Your IP Portfolio with Foreign Patents” The 1995 Intellectual Property Institute, March 1995.

“How to Maximize the Value of Biotechnology Assets” Intellectual Property Institute for Corporate Counsel, September 1994

Bar & Court Admissions

Patent Bar, 1987

Iowa State Bar, 1984

Admitted to practice in the Northern (1986) and Southern (1987) Federal District Courts of Iowa

Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, 1988

Great Plains Super Lawyers, Intellectual Property, 2018–2020

Non-obviousness: when failure equals success

A recent Federal Circuit Court decision demonstrates that evidence of prior failures to achieve desired results can be potent evidence of lack of predictability in a field, resulting in the non-obviousness of using a compound to treat a specific cancer, even though the drug target was identified as effective in a test tube. The decision, […]

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Playing the Numbers Game on U.S. Patent Office Appeals and Trials

Numbers don’t always tell the story, but they can provide interesting highlights. The United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) tracks various statistics of patent appeals and trials. The mid-year statistics in 2019 provide an interesting look at the direction of the USPTO. Appeal results remain largely the same, with a longer look at trial […]

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The USPTO Changes Patent Eligibility Guidelines

The United States Patent Office has released updates to subject matter eligibility guidelines under 35 USC §101. Along with these updates, the Office has provided slides and a webinar reviewing the changes, using the same materials provided in training of patent examiners. There are two parts to the analysis, Step 1, and Step 2A and […]

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Precedential Opinion Panel Decides Issue Joinder in IPR is Permissible

A panel of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued a precedential decision March 13, 2019 stating that a party that challenges a patent in an inter-partes review (IPR) proceeding can join their own petition challenging another’s patent, in order to add new issues, but only in limited circumstances. Here, Proppant Express Investments LLC […]

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Supreme Court Rules: Sale of Invention can Prevent Patenting

Following passage of the America Invents Act, questions arose as to whether a secret sale by the inventor more than one year before patenting was prior art under section 102(a)(1) that would prohibit patenting of the invention. The language of the statute provides an invention cannot be patented if “in public use, on sale, or […]

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