2004 Distinguished Service Award: Don Martens

// Civil & Environmental Engineering

Tags: alumni, Don Martens, Engineers' Day, GLE E-Day

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Don W. Martens
Senior Partner
Knobbe, Martens, Olson & Bear, LLP
BSGLE ’57, BSNS ’57

From the small-town football fields of Wisconsin, Don W. Martens has risen to become one of the nation’s most respected patent attorneys.

Martens, senior partner in the California law firm of Knobbe, Martens, Olson & Bear, grew up in Darlington in southwestern Wisconsin. He played football there, serving as captain of the 1952 squad coached by the legendary Darlington head coach Walter “Wadzy” Martens, Don’s father.

Martens received a BS in mining engineering from UW-Madison in 1957. At the same time, he achieved a bachelor of naval science degree in engineering. Following his graduation from UW-Madison, he served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Civil Engineering Corps for three years.

He enrolled at law school at George Washington University in Washington, DC, where he received his LLD in 1963. While attending law school, he began his interest in patents, serving as an examiner for the U.S. Patent Office and as a law clerk for the office’s assistant commissioner of patents.

Following graduation from law school, Martens worked for two years as a patent lawyer for Standard Oil of California before joining the Irvine, CA, firm now known as Knobbe, Martens, Olson & Bear, in 1965.

He is internationally renowned for his knowledge of patent law and intellectual property rights. He has authored or co-authored numerous papers on patent law and litigation, and is frequently invited to speak at conferences and seminars on the topic. He has lectured in Russia, China, and seven other countries with emerging economies to assist in development of their patent laws. He was named one of the top 10 patent lawyers in the world in a survey conducted by PLC Global Counsel magazine, one of the two leading intellectual property lawyers in the United States by Global Counsel’s Handbook, and was named to the inaugural list of Southern California Super Lawyers by Law and Politics magazine.

Martens served as president of the Orange County Bar Association in 1975; vice-president of the State Bar of California in 1987; president of the American Intellectual Property Law Association in 1995-96; chair of the National Council of Intellectual Property Law Associations in 1999; and president of the National Inventors Hall of Fame Foundation in 1999.

He is a member of the Tau Beta Pi Honorary Engineering fraternity. He was President of the Darlington High School Class of 1952, and in 2002 served as master of ceremonies for its 50th reunion celebration

Marten’s wife, Janan, graduated from UW-Madison in 1957. The couple have two grown daughters.