John Therien co-leads Smith Anderson's AgTech group and advises a broad range of clients in commercial transactions involving intellectual property, including domestic and international corporate partnering, patent and technology licensing, research and development collaborations, joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, supply chain, distribution, and co-promotion arrangements, and other strategic commercial transactions. In Chambers USA clients describe John as "extremely smart, responsive and hard-working" (Chambers USA 2020). He has extensive experience advising companies in the agricultural biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries and also frequently counsels clients in the diagnostics, medical device, software, video game, and technology sectors on transactional matters. Prior to joining Smith Anderson, John practiced at a prominent global law firm in Boston.
Professional & Community Affiliations
- Licensing Executives Society
- North Carolina Bar Association
- Wake County Bar Association
- American Bar Association
- Member, Research Committee, Chordoma Foundation
Honors & Awards
- Chambers USA: America’s Leading Business Lawyers, Intellectual Property (2016-2021)
- Best Lawyers®, Biotechnology and Life Sciences Practice (2019-2021)
- North Carolina Super Lawyers, Rising Star (2010-2016)
- Triangle Business Journal's 2016 "40 Under 40" Leadership Award
- Berkeley Technology Law Journal, Associate Editor
- Certificate in Law and Technology, UC Berkeley School of Law
- Thelen, Marrin Prize for Law Journal Writing
- Order of the Coif, UC Berkeley School of Law
- Phi Beta Kappa, Harvard College
- Represented a leading genome editing company in its approximately $2.7 billion research collaboration, including an upfront payment of $135 million, with a global, publicly-traded pharmaceutical company to develop and commercialize gene editing-based gene therapies for up to six targets.
Represented a leading genome editing company dedicated to improving life in its $145.4 million initial public offering of 9,085,000 shares of common stock at a public offering price of $16.00 per share.
- Lead counsel to a venture capital-funded genome editing company in a worldwide partnership, worth up to $1.6 billion, including an upfront payment of $105 million, with a global, publicly-traded pharmaceutical company to develop and commercialize allogeneic chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapies for multiple cancers. The transaction was awarded the 2016 Life Science sector Deals of Distinction™ award by the Licensing Executives Society and was awarded the 2016 Collaboration Impact Deal of the Year: High Range by LMG Life Sciences.
Advised a biotechnology company that develops CRISPR-engineered precision antibacterial products in an exclusive collaboration and license agreement valued at up to $818 million with a leading global pharmaceutical company to develop, manufacture and commercialize CRISPR-Cas3-enhanced bacteriophage products targeting bacterial pathogens for potential treatment of certain infections.
Advised a venture capital-funded genome editing company in its up to $445 million comprehensive worldwide development and commercialization agreement with a leading global biopharmaceutical company to develop therapies targeting the in vivo elimination of hepatitis B virus (HBV) using a proprietary genome editing platform.
Lead counsel to a venture capital-funded AgTech company in a license agreement of next-generation genome editing technology from a university to advance innovation in agriculture, and a related $100 million strategic alliance with a global, publicly-traded agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology company, to progress agriculture research by leveraging gene editing technology.
- Represented a venture capital-funded biotechnology company that uses the plant-associated microbiome to create innovative agricultural products in an R&D collaboration with a leading global agricultural biotechnology company for discovery, development and commercialization of crop trait products.
- Advised a biotechnology company focused on discovery of complex traits for improving intrinsic yield in plants in multiple research collaborations and commercial partnerships with agricultural biotechnology companies in the U.S., France and Brazil.
- Counsel to U.S. and international biotechnology companies in R&D collaborations related to plant genome editing technologies with five of the “Big Six” largest international agricultural biotechnology companies.
- Represented a private equity fund in its newly-formed portfolio company's acquisition and in-license of rights to a commercial-stage biologic drug product from a Fortune 500 pharmaceutical company.
- Counsel to a specialty pharmaceutical company in an exclusive out-license of clinical stage pharmaceutical products for treatment of metabolic disease to a leading international pharmaceutical company in Latin America.
- Advised a publicly-traded specialty pharmaceutical company in multiple exclusive in-licenses of Phase 3 clinical pharmaceutical assets from German, Spanish and U.S. pharmaceutical companies.
- Counsel to a plant-made pharmaceutical company in its exclusive collaboration with an international animal health company for the development of vaccine products.
- Represented university spin-outs in licensing foundational technology from universities such as The Broad Institute, Harvard University/Massachusetts General Hospital, Columbia University, Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, University of California at San Francisco, Duquesne University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Virginia and Virginia Tech.
- Counsel to a university licensee in its exclusive out-license of pre-clinical pharmaceutical assets to a publicly-traded European pharmaceutical company.
- Advised a leading video game company in the sale of a game franchise to a global computer software company and in the development of an innovative licensing model for the client's video game development software.
- Counsel to a global solid state LED lighting and semiconductor manufacturing company in technology research and development and licensing transaction.
- Represented a global solid state LED lighting and semiconductor manufacturing company in a Hong Kong joint venture to sell mid-power lighting class LED packaged products.
- Represented a global solid state LED lighting and semiconductor manufacturing company in connection with its announced agreement for its $850 million sale of assets to a publicly traded German semiconductor company. The transaction was terminated before completion due to regulatory considerations.
News & Publications
- Smith Anderson Shines in 2021 Chambers USA with Most Band 1 Practice Rankings of Any NC-Based Law FirmChambers USA, 05.21.2021
- Chambers Global, 02.24.2021
- 2021 Best Lawyers® and The Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch Recognize Largest Group of Smith Anderson Lawyers in Firm’s HistoryThe 2021 Best Lawyers®, 08.20.2020
- Chambers USA, 04.23.2020
- Food Tech Company Pairwise Partners with PSI to Produce New Varieties of Raspberries and Blackberries04.17.2020
- Chambers Global, 02.14.2020
- Smith Anderson Leads “Best Lawyers®” Rankings with 71 Recognized Lawyers and 11 “Lawyers of the Year” - Most of Any Raleigh Law FirmThe Best Lawyers in America©, 08.20.2019
- Chambers USA, 04.29.2019
- Locus Biosciences Enters a Collaboration and License Agreement with Johnson & Johnson Innovation Valued at Up to $818 Million01.31.2019
- Precision BioSciences Inks Strategic Collaboration with Gilead Sciences Valued at Up to $445 Million09.18.2018
- The Best Lawyers in America©, 08.15.2018
- Chambers USA, 05.03.2018
- Smith Anderson Strengthens its National Technology Transactions Practice with the Addition of Darrell Fruth05.02.2018
- Smith Anderson Advises on Deals with Monsanto, Harvard for AgTech Company to Advance Innovation in Agriculture04.02.2018
- Triangle Business Journal, 11.28.2017
- Chambers USA, 05.30.2017
- Genome Editing Client Precision BioSciences to be Awarded Prestigious Deal of Distinction™ Award at LES Annual Meeting10.17.2016
- Chambers USA, 06.01.2016
- Smith Anderson Partner John Therien Honored as 2016 “40 Under 40” Award Recipient by Triangle Business Journal05.18.2016
- Smith Anderson Advises Chiesi in Agreement to Acquire Three Cardiovascular Hospital Products for up to $792 Million05.12.2016
- Promising New Alzheimer’s Drug Featured in Time Magazine Article Titled “The Alzheimer’s Pill: a radical new drug could change old age”03.29.2016
- The Association for Corporate Counsel Presents Program - Commercial Contracting: Top 10 Landmines for Litigation09.29.2011
- John Therien and Robert Rehm Present at North Carolina Central University School of Law Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Law Review Symposium04.05.2011
- Presenter, "Ag and Technology—The Future Being Created in North Carolina," NC Chamber Ag Allies Virtual Conference10.07.2020
- Moderator, “The Future of Agri-Business,” NC Chamber's 2018 Agri-Business Conference, Raleigh, N.C.10.05.2018
- Presenter, Genome Editing Deals in Agriculture – Key Issues and Potential Pitfalls, North Carolina Biotechnology Center's Biotech Roundtable: Genetic Editing in Ag Biotech Program, October 24, 2017
- Moderator, AgBio Workshop: Navigating the Big Six, CED Life Sciences Conference, March 2, 2016
- Presenter, Protecting the Business and Your Intellectual Property, CED FastTrac TechVenture Program, November 17, 2011
Bar & Court Admissions
- North Carolina
UC Berkeley School of Law, J.D., 2001
- Order of the Coif
Harvard College, A.B. in biochemical sciences, magna cum laude, 1998
- Clerked for Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, 2001-2002