Donald E. (“Don”) Knebel earned a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University (with highest distinction) in 1968 and a J.D. degree from the Harvard Law School (magna cum laude) in 1974. From 1968 to 1971, he was employed by the Lockheed Missiles and Space Company. He retired as a partner in Barnes & Thornburg LLP on December 31, 2013, after spending more than 39 years in the Indianapolis office of that firm as an intellectual property and antitrust litigator. During that time, he was involved in cases in 23 states and tried cases to verdict in 10 states. He is a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers and was listed in The Best Lawyers in America® since the first edition in 1983 (Commercial Litigation, Intellectual Property Litigation, Antitrust, Bet-the-Company Litigation, Copyright Law, Patent Law) and was named in 2011, 2012 and 2013 as the Indianapolis Intellectual Property Litigation Lawyer of the Year. He now serves as counsel to Barnes & Thornburg.
Since 2011, Don has been Adjunct Professor and Senior Advisor to the Center for Intellectual Property Research at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law. He teaches courses on antitrust and intellectual property law. One course seeks to teach law students the principles and techniques of intellectual property litigation by engaging them in the preparation and trial of a hypothetical patent case, tried before a jury and an actual federal judge. This course, thought to be the first of its kind in the United States, now includes law students from the National Chiao Tung University in Taiwan, where Don is an adjunct professor.
Don has been active in many civic and charitable organizations. He has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre since 1986. He served as Civic’s Board Chair from 2017 to 2019, the third time he has held this position. Between 2015 and 2016, he served as Civic’s interim Executive Director. He was the 2010 Campaign Chair for United Way of Central Indiana, where he is an emeritus Board member. He was the co-chair of the 2013 Classical Fellowship Awards for the American Pianist Association and served on its Board. He was the moderator for the 2013 Ardath Burkhart Leadership Series and was on the Steering Committees for the first Festival of Faiths held in Indianapolis in October 2013 and for the visit of the Dalai Lama to Indianapolis in 2016. He was the founding Board Chair of the Center for Interfaith Cooperation. He was the Board Chair of the Triangle Education Foundation between 2017 and 2019 and continues to serve on that Board. He is also currently a member of the Board of Directors of Christel House International and the John E. Christian Family Memorial Trust Inc. He is on the Advisory Committee of the Faith and Action initiative of the Christian Theological Seminary, on whose Board he also serves. He served as the inaugural president of the S. Jay Plager Intellectual Property American Inn of Court. from 2018 to 2020. He is now serving as the inaugural president of Recenter Indiana, a group devoted to bringing the political discussion in Indiana closer to the center.
Don is passionate about the need for members of all religious traditions to have a better understanding of each other and speaks often to churches and community groups on comparative religion and religious history. He is a member of Northminster Presbyterian Church. He is a frequent international traveler and he speaks widely on topics related to that travel. He writes a weekly column on travel for the Current newspapers. His book, Flushed with Curiosity, includes 101 stories about his travel experiences.
Don has received a number of awards for his civic activities, including “Outstanding Electrical Engineer” from Purdue University, “Interfaith Ambassador of the Year” from the Center for Interfaith Cooperation, and the “Cap Henning Altruism Award” from Triangle Fraternity. On November 14, 2019, he was named Indiana Philanthropist of the Year by the Indiana Association of Fund Raising Professionals.