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Arntsen defends clients’ ideas

From coffee pods to comic book characters, attorney Allen Arntsen is busy protecting the intellectual property of his many clients.

“I like this work,” the Foley & Lardner partner said. “You deal with interesting people, inventors. The way the world is going, so much more of value is based on intellectual property. Now, the ability to create things is the driver of the economy.”

Arntsen successfully defended Sturm Foods, a Manawa-based company that produced single-serve coffee pods, much to the chagrin of coffee-brewing giant Keurig, which alleged various patent and non-patent violations had taken place.

In another case, Arntsen represented author Neil Gaiman in a dispute over the use of certain comic book characters. He prevailed in a jury trial and the victory was upheld by the Seventh Circuit, helping establish case law about the rights of creators to their creations.

Arntsen specializes in intellectual and patent infringement as well as eminent domain and condemnation disputes. Since earning his law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1981, he has successfully represented clients in more than 40 trials and has obtained preliminary injunctive or dispositive relief in many other cases.

He has served as lead counsel in more than 50 patent infringement actions, along with numerous trademark, trade secret and copyright cases, and has represented acquiring agencies and landowners in more than 50 contested eminent domain cases.

A major factor in his success, Arntsen said, is his commitment to serving as an educator, because often his cases involve technology or processes that jurors and judges aren’t familiar with.

“You’re almost part of a translation process,” he said. “You have people teach you. You have to grasp it and master it so you can explain it to others. You might need to think of analogies or create graphics (to help people understand the issues).”

In addition to his busy practice, Arntsen gets involved locally with Madison organizations. He has functioned as an activist on bike safety issues in the city and worked as chairman of the board of Downtown Madison Inc. He also worked with a neighborhood group to define The Barrymore Theatre as a live performance venue, and serves as the theater’s president.


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