Heidi S. Nebel

Heidi is an Intellectual Property attorney with over 25 years of experience obtaining patents and designing IP strategy in the areas of biotechnology, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Heidi is the Chair of the Biotechnology & Chemical practice group and is also the Managing Member of the Firm. She serves as an advocate for her clients and believes that the best results come from working in close association with the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office examiners.

Heidi participated in the seminal United States Supreme Court case, Pioneer v. J. E. M. Ag Supply, 534 U. S. 124 (2001), which confirmed the availability of utility patent protection for plants.

Heidi S. Nebel obtained patent 6,136,320 entitled VACCINES EXPRESSED IN PLANTS cited in MIT's Technology Review magazine as “one of five patents that will transform business and technology”. The technology involved engineering plants to express various bacterial and viral antigens so that upon consumption of the resultant animal food product, an animal would become immunized.

From 2004 - 2009, Heidi led the MVS team in a strategic Alliance with Pioneer Hi-Bred International/DuPont. The Alliance involved a novel partnership where MVS attorneys attended monthly business strategy meetings and became educated on long range intellectual property goals of the company. The strategic alliance relationship included a monthly fixed fee in exchange for becoming the exclusive firm for all outside patent work for Pioneer Hi-Bred International/DuPont. This involved all technology areas for Pioneer Hi-Bred, and of course, focused primarily on patents in the plant area involving germplasm patents, transgenic protocols, genetically modified plants for both input and out traits, male sterility and many others. This was a great opportunity to provide value added service to one the firm's largest clients.

Heidi also prepared and prosecuted US patent number 10,308,947 METHODS AND COMPOSITIONS FOR MULTIPLEX RNA GUIDED GENOME EDITING AND OTHER RNA TECHNOLOGIES for Dr. Yinong Yang from Penn State University. The groundbreaking technology involves methods to highly increase gene editing efficiency in plants and animals. The technology has been widely adapted with over 30 peer review journal publications to date and has been exclusively licensed to Monsanto for use in their product development pipeline.

In early May 2019, Heidi worked with New West Genetics to file an application for one of the first PVP Certificates for AOSCA-certified hemp seed variety approved for by the 2018 Farm Bill.

Agricultural patents in the animal area also form a large part of her practice including animal vaccines, gene editing, and sex selection. Heidi joined the firm in 1991, serves on the firm's management committee and is the chairperson of the Biotechnology/Chemical Practice Group. She manages several of the firm's largest clients and guides client teams to focus on overall business strategies around a solid intellectual property foundation. Heidi also enjoys being an advocate of biotechnology, speaking around the country on important issues in the field.

Heidi is actively involved in the Association of University Technology Managers where she has served on the Board of the Midwest Region for four years and has presented at meetings over the past 15 years. Heidi is rated as AV Preeminent® by LexisNexis/Martindale-Hubbell, the highest possible peer review rating for legal ability and ethical standards. Heidi was recently appointed by the United States Secretary of Agriculture to serve on the USDA PVP Advisory Board, to help shape the country’s IP policy for plants. Her clients include over 40 universities and research institutions, as well as fortune 500 companies around the world. Heidi is also an active member of ChIPs, a nonprofit organization that advances and connects women in technology, law and policy.

Publications and Presentations by Heidi S. Nebel include:

  • "Appeals Before the Federal Circuit", Practicing Law Institute Seminar on Patent Litigation (Co-authored with Tom Arnold), Fall 1990.
  • “Intellectual Property Protection for Biotechnology”, Iowa Commerce Magazine, January 1996.
  • “Patenting and Sequencing the Genome”, Chapter 8 of Intellectual Property Rights and Patenting in Animal Breeding and Genetics (Co-authored with Lila A.T. Akrad and Tonya Y. Brady), October 2002.
  • “BUSINESS BASICS: Understanding Patent Law”, December 2004.
  • “Growing Biotechnology in Iowa”, Iowa Biotechnology Association, September 2004.
  • “Intellectual Property Myths Debunked!”, Greater Des Moines Partnership, April 2007.
  • “Defining the Inventor”, AUTM Central Region Meeting, July 2007.
  • “Keeping Your Rights Shipshape: Inventorship, Authorship and Ownership”, AUTM Central Region Meeting, July 2007.
  • “US Patent System Under Reform, A Boon or Bust for Innovation?”, AUTM webinar, September 2008.
  • “It Is My Idea, I Think?” Iowa Farm Bureau, January 2009.
  • “Patenting Wheat Varieties and Gene Innovations”, National Wheat Quality Council, May 2013.
  • “IP Protection of Plants”, Drake Law School Midwest IP Symposium Spring CLE, March 25, 2016.
  • “Protection for Biotechnology", South Dakota State University Internal Presentation, April 28, 2016.
  • Des Moines Women of Influence Awards, March 2017.
  • What's Hot in Crops: Key Issues in Agriculture”, AUTM Crop Productivity Partnering Forum, September, 2017.
  • "IP, Regulatory, & Tax", Iowa Biotechnology Association Legal Symposium, November 2017. 
  • Des Moines Women of Influence Awards March 2018.
  • “The Current State of Intellectual Property: A Broad-Spectrum Conversation”, The Conversation: AUTM Leadership Forum (Presented with the Honorable Paul Michel, Former Chief Justice, United States Court of Appeals for the federal Circuit), September 2018.
  • “Plant IP and Key Issues” NuTech Ventures, May 23, 2019.
  • Upcoming “In the Weeds: Navigating Cannabis-based Research Opportunities and IP Protection in the Federal Prohibition World", AUTM Central, July 2019. 




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