Deborah R. Gerhardt

Of Counsel


Deborah focuses her practice at the intersection of arts and creativity and is passionate about helping clients optimize their intellectual property rights and create brand value through building a community around core values.

She has successfully litigated disputes in state and federal courts, as well as before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Deborah is also experienced in advertising and marketing law; entertainment, arts, and sports law; entrepreneurial law; and contract law including licensing and employment agreements.

Deborah represents a wide range of clients, including Fortune 500 corporations, small businesses, artists, nonprofits, museums, arts leaders, and musicians.


In addition to private practice, Deborah is Reef C. Ivey II Excellence Fund Term Professor of Law at the UNC School of Law, where she teaches trademark law, copyright, intellectual property law, and art law, as well as arts entrepreneurship. She was integral to the launch of UNC’s Intellectual Property Clinic and oversees students providing pro bono counsel to artists, entrepreneurs, museums, and small businesses.

She began her career as an Associate in the IP Practice of a leading international law firm. Deborah spent nearly 10 years in private practice before transitioning to academics.

She is a frequent presenter and author on trademark, copyright, art law, and related matters.

Honors & Recognitions

  • Professor S. Elizabeth Gibson Award for Faculty Excellence, 2020
  • UNC Distinguished Teaching Award for Post-Baccalaureate Instruction, 2018
  • Selected for Institute of Arts and Humanities Faculty Fellows Program, 2017
  • Selected for Advertising Educational Foundation’s Visiting Professor Program, 2015
  • Pitch Competition Winner, Chancellors’ Faculty Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, 2015
  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grant Recipient for copyright law research

Professional Activities

  • Chair, American Association of Law Schools, Art Law Section
  • Founding Co-Chair of Women’s Point of View and Member, PlayMakers Advisory Council at UNC
  • Advisory Board Member, UNC Center for Media Law & Policy
  • Coach, INTA Moot Court Trademark Teams at UNC
  • Advisor, Carolina Intellectual Property Law Association
  • Member, American Bar Association
  • Former Board Member, American Association of Law Schools, Intellectual Property Section



Community Involvement

  • Founder, Pay our Teachers First



Community Involvement

  • Founder, Pay our Teachers First
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