Darrell Fruth, patent attorney and professional engineer, helps clients navigate issues with law and technology. He regularly asserts and defends intellectual property claims. With experience as an environmental engineer, he solves complex environmental issues related to emerging technologies.
Darrell helps start-ups deal with important legal issues. From securing intellectual property to defending against claims of infringement, he helps founders stay focused on what matters most: developing traction and executing in their core business. He provides general legal advice and calls upon experienced corporate attorneys in the firm to help clients structure their entities and comply with securities regulations.
With a particular focus on the Research Triangle, Darrell has assisted a number of clients in the American Underground campus and elsewhere in downtown Durham. His experience with both engineering and environmental law is particularly useful for companies developing high technology products or requiring permitting assistance. His start-up clients have included video game publishers, hardware inventors, platform designers, app developers, and others with great ideas to bring to market.
In 2015, Darrell joined the faculty of the Duke Law Start-Up Ventures Clinic as a supervising attorney. In that capacity, he regularly advises Durham-based entrepreneurs and university spinoffs.
Darrell helps clients navigate issues involving law and technology. He has assisted video game publishers, hardware inventors, platform designers, app developers, and other startup ventures.
Registered to practice before the United States Patent & Trademark Office, Darrell works with entities of all sizes to protect, license, assert and defend rights in intellectual property, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. He recently defended a federal criminal prosecution alleging theft of trade secrets related to wireless communications. Throughout his career, Darrell has resolved various trademark disputes and has negotiated licenses for patents, know-how, copyrights, trademarks, and software-as-a-service (SaaS).
Registered to practice before the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO), Darrell regularly helps clients resolve patent disputes.
Darrell has litigated patent lawsuits spanning a range of technologies: from sunglasses to software. His work helped a client in California win summary judgment on a sound compression patent. A different defendant sued under the same patent was found to infringe and faced a $1.2 billion verdict, one of the largest patent verdicts in U.S. history. Darrell also helped defend a Japanese manufacturer in a four-week patent infringement trial involving semi-conductor manufacturing equipment. He has experience litigating pharmaceutical patents and Abbreviated New Drug Applications (ANDA) claims under the Hatch-Waxman Act. He recently helped represent a generic drug manufacturer through trial involving the drug sold as Latisse.®
Darrell currently represents a plaintiff asserting patents related to document comparison technologies.
Darrell has helped advance clean technologies for a range of clients by providing advice on climate change regulation, permitting for alternative energy facilities, and creating a marketplace for advanced climate mitigation technologies. He has been asked to speak about sustainability topics (including LEED certification and “green” building) at a variety of venues, including a regional meeting of the U.S. Green Building Council.
Darrell has particular experience helping clients with technologies that utilize pyrolysis or other gasification technologies to harness clean energy, safely dispose of waste, or create stable soil amendments. He has published a law review article on carbon credits for biochar, served as a peer reviewer for the journal Carbon Management and provided legal representation to the International Biochar Initiative.
He keeps up to date with developments in nanotechnology, especially as they relate to environmental exposure and regulation.
With environmental engineering degrees from MIT and U.C. Berkeley and experience teaching environmental law, Darrell understands the environmental issues faced by his clients. He uses his technical background and fifteen years of legal experience to advise individuals and businesses on a wide range of environmental issues, including Brownfield redevelopment, water rights, environmental due diligence, permitting, riparian buffer rules, citizen suits, and climate change regulation. He also helps resolve land use disputes with environmental components, and recently argued an appeal before the North Carolina Court of Appeals that resulted in affirmance in favor of a municipal client.
Darrell has represented landowners in disputes over contaminated property, addressed complex federal permitting issues, and represented potentially responsible parties in CERCLA actions. He has particular experience related to water and wastewater issues, including defending a company through trial on criminal charges for allegedly violating pretreatment requirements under the Clean Water Act.
As an associate at Farella Braun + Martel in San Francisco, Darrell argued a successful pro bono civil rights appeal to the Ninth Circuit U. S. Court of Appeals. The resulting decision on federal constitutional law has been cited in decisions by judges more than 1,500 times.
Selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© in Trademark Law (2018)
Recognized in North Carolina Super Lawyers (Thomson Reuters) as a “Rising Star” in Intellectual Property (2012)
Regents Fellowship, University of California at Berkeley
President, Chi Epsilon Civil Engineering Honor Society, MIT
Board of Trustees, Bull City Forward
Chair, Intellectual Property Section, North Carolina Bar Association
Former Board member, Watts Hospital-Hillandale Neighborhood Association
Volunteer (coach, judge, and school-wide coordinator) for elementary Odyssey of the Mind program
Adjunct Professor, Environmental Law, Elon University School of Law (2009-2011)
Instructor, Environmental Ethics and Philosophy of Law, University of Nevada, Reno, 2001
Moderator, "Digitizing Reality: AR, VR, and the Future of the Entertainment Industry," Duke University 7th Annual Sports and Entertainment Law Symposium (Durham, NC, January 2017)
Moderator, "How to Identify and Contract with a Cloud Services Provider That You Can Really Trust," ABA Intellectual Property Roundtable (Raleigh, NC, December 2016)
Seminar, "Emerging Environmental Issues," Eastern Carolina Environmental Conference, Fleet Readiness Center East Environmental and Energy Program Division (Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, 2012)
Seminar, "Legal Developments Affecting Green Building: From Cap-and-Trade to Stimulus Grants," Commercial Real Estate Sustainable Forum (Greensboro, 2010)
Seminar, "Are Genes Patentable?"American Bar Association Intellectual Property Roundtable (Raleigh, 2010)
Presenter, "From Copenhagen to Greensboro: Green Market Opportunities for Businesses," Greensboro Chamber of Commerce (2009)
Presenter, Annual Meeting of NCBA's Section on Environmental, Energy and Natural Resources (Asheville and New Bern, 2007-2008)
Panelist, "File Sharing After Napster: Is the DMCA Working?"American Intellectual Property Law Association Annual Meeting, Copyright Committee (Washington, DC, 2003)
Economic and Institutional Constraints to Privatizing Government Information Technology Services, 13 Harvard Journal of Law & Technology 521 (2000)
Co-Author, Developing a New Water Resource from Oilfield Produced Water, presented at American Water Works Association Water Resources Conference, Seattle, WA, 1997
Co-Author, A River Basin Based Method to Estimate Arsenic Occurrence in California Surface Waters, poster presented at American Water Works Association Water Quality & Technology Conference, Boston, MA, 1996
Darrell lives in Durham. He enjoys photography and endurance sports. He grew up hiking, fishing and camping in the Southwest and always looks forward to his next adventure in the wild.