Darrell Fruth

Senior Lecturing Fellow
Supervising Attorney, Start-Up Ventures Clinic


Darrell Fruth is a senior lecturing fellow and supervising attorney with Duke Law School’s Start-Up Ventures Clinic, where he and his students advise eligible seed and early-stage entrepreneurs on a variety of intellectual property issues. 

Fruth is also a partner at Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard, LLP in Raleigh, where he helps clients navigate issues with law and technology.  With a particular emphasis on the Research Triangle, Fruth has assisted video game publishers, hardware inventors, platform designers, app developers, and other startup ventures in the American Underground campus and elsewhere in his home town of Durham.

Registered to practice before the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO), Fruth 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, Fruth has also resolved various trademark disputes and has negotiated licenses for patents, know-how, copyrights, trademarks, and software-as-a-service (SaaS).   

Fruth has litigated patent lawsuits spanning a range of technologies, including pharmaceuticals, semi-conductor manufacturing equipment, sunglasses, and other consumer products.  In one of his more notable cases, Fruth helped a client in California win summary judgment involving a patent for sound compression that was successfully asserted against a different company and resulted in one of the largest patent verdicts in U.S. history.  He is currently litigating a patent infringement lawsuit involving software products.   

Fruth frequently writes and speaks on issues related to intellectual property.  He recently published an article in the National Law Journal on developments in patent law and presented with lawyers from leading software companies on strategies for responding to patent trolls.  He serves as Vice-Chair of the IP section of the NC State Bar Association and as a Trustee for Bull City Forward, a non-profit that fosters social entrepreneurship.  He has been recognized as a “Rising Star” by North Carolina Super Lawyers.

Drawing on experience from his prior work as an environmental engineer, Fruth also deals with legal issues that have complex technical and regulatory components.  Some examples include providing advice on redeveloping Brownfield sites, addressing soil and groundwater contamination, and obtaining or challenging environmental permits.  Fruth has taught environmental law, published a law review article on carbon credits for emerging technologies, and served as a peer reviewer for the journal Carbon Management.  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.

Fruth received engineering degrees from MIT and U.C. Berkeley before graduating from Yale Law School in 2000.  His prior legal experience includes clerking for a federal district court judge and practicing at Farella Braun + Martel LLP in San Francisco, where his pro bono appellate work established a civil rights precedent that has been cited by federal judges more than 1,500 times.