Darrell A. Fruth helps innovative companies develop and commercialize new technologies. He regularly assists clients in life science, ag-tech, and clean-tech on complex national and international licensing, distribution and research collaboration agreements. He helps software clients navigate open source issues, distribute video games and develop software platforms. Darrell also provides guidance on intellectual property issues in strategic commercial transactions such as joint ventures and mergers and acquisitions.

Prior to joining Smith Anderson in 2018, Darrell practiced at law firms in San Francisco and Raleigh.

Areas of Focus



  • Business North Carolina Legal EliteIntellectual Property (2017-2018, 2024)
  • The Best Lawyers in America®
    • Trademark Law (2018-2024)
    • Litigation - Intellectual Property (2020-2024)
    • Trade Secrets Law (2020-2024)
    • "Lawyer of the Year," Raleigh, Trademark Law (2021, 2023)
  • North Carolina Super Lawyers Rising Star (2012)
  • University of California Regents Fellow
  • President, Chi Epsilon Honor Society, MIT

Pro Bono:

As an associate in San Francisco, Darrell argued a successful pro bono civil rights case to the federal court of appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The resulting opinion has been cited in decisions by judges more than 2,500 times. 


  • Law Clerk to the Honorable Howard D. McKibben, U.S. District Court for Nevada


  • Yale Law School, J.D., 2000
  • University of California at Berkeley, M.S., Environmental Engineering, 1995
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, B.S., Environmental Engineering Science, 1994

Bar & Court Admissions


  • Board of Advisors, NC TECH (North Carolina Technology Association) (2023-present)
  • Patent attorney registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office
  • Former Chair, Intellectual Property Section of the North Carolina Bar Association (2016-2017)
  • Former Board Member, Bull City Forward, a non-profit advancing social entrepreneurship
  • Former Board Member, Watts Hillandale Neighborhood Association
  • Volunteer (coach, judge and school-wide coordinator) for elementary Odyssey of the Mind program


  • Co-taught the Duke Law School Start-Up Ventures Clinic (2015-2017), supervising students on a broad range of transactional services to early-stage entrepreneurs
  • Taught Environmental Law survey course at Elon Law School (2009-2011)
  • Designed and taught undergraduate Philosophy course at the University of Nevada (2001)


  • Advised an international research-oriented healthcare group in its acquisition of worldwide product rights to a rare disease therapy.
  • Represented a biotechnology company focused on discovery of traits for improving plant yields in a license agreement with a leading university. 
  • Represented a global materials manufacturer on collaborations with industry partners to research and develop innovative rechargeable battery technologies. 
  • Advised a venture capital-funded genome editing company in a worldwide development and commercialization agreement with a leading global drug company to develop therapies for hepatitis B using a proprietary genome editing platform.
  • Counseled a public company on strategies for negotiating clinical trial agreements with sites across the country to test diagnostic products. 
  • Represented university spin-outs on licensing inventions from Duke University and the University of North Carolina. 
  • Advised a leading video game maker with licensing its technology to a major auto manufacturer to create a human-machine interface for use in automobiles. 
  • Represented a specialty pharma company in its acquisition of a pharmaceutical product to treat dermatological indications. 
  • Counseled a leading provider of patient affordability, access, adherence, and support services on intellectual property issues associated with its acquisition of an open-source healthcare information management software company.
  • Negotiated influencer agreements, management contracts and related commercial arrangements for an entertainment company in the Esports space.



Publications & Alerts

  • Weapons Emerging to Take Up Against Trolls
    National Law Journal
  • Touby or not Touby: The Constitutional Question When Congress Authorizes State and Local Governments to Legislate the Contours of Federal Criminal Law
    44 Environmental Law Reporter 10072
  • Adjusting Carbon Management Policies to Encourage Renewable, Net-Negative Projects Such as Biochar Sequestration
    36 William Mitchell Law Review 992
  • Note, Economic and Institutional Constraints to Privatizing Government Information Technology Services
    13 Harvard Journal of Law & Technology

Events & Programming

  • Panelist, "Roundtable: Artificial Intelligence," Roundtable hosted by Business North Carolina, Raleigh, N.C.
    Speaking Engagement
  • Co-Presenter, "Emerging Copyright Issues within the Video Game Space," North Carolina Bar Association Intellectual Property Law Section Annual Meeting, Virtual
    Speaking Engagement
  • Co-Speaker, "The Intellectual Property Year in Review: Trade Secrets," NCBA Intellectual Property: Ready for the New Decade CLE, Charlotte, N.C.
    Speaking Engagement
  • Moderator, “Digitizing Reality: AR: VR, and the Future of the Entertainment Industry,” Duke University 7th Annual Sports and Entertainment Law Symposium
    Durham, N.C.
  • Speaker, “Start-Up Ventures: What’s Law Got to Do With It?” Greensboro HQ Incubator
    Greensboro, N.C.
  • Panelist, “Identifying, Protecting and Managing Intellectual Property,” North Carolina Bar Association’s Business Law Institute
    Pinehurst, N.C.
  • Moderator, “How to Identify and Contract with a Cloud Services Provider That You Can Truly Trust,” ABA Intellectual Property Roundtable
    Raleigh, N.C.
  • Speaker, “Responding to Patent Trolls,” UNC Festival of Legal Learning
    Chapel Hill, N.C.
  • Speaker, “Keeping it Legit: Legal Issues for Enterprising Artists,” Southern Entrepreneurship in the Arts Conference
    Greensboro, N.C.
  • Speaker, “Legal Developments Affecting Green Building: From Cap-and-Trade to Stimulus Grants, U.S. Green Building Council’s Commercial Real Estate Sustainable Forum
    Greensboro, N.C.
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