Deborah R. Gerhardt

Professor of Law, Reef C. Ivey II Excellence Term Professor of Law

(919) 962-7219
5101 Van Hecke-Wettach Hall

Areas of Expertise

  • Advertising and Marketing Law
  • Art Law
  • Copyright Law
  • Entertainment, Arts, and Sports Law
  • Entrepreneurship and the Law
  • Intellectual Property Law
  • Trademark Law


Deborah R. Gerhardt joined the UNC law faculty in 2009 and serves as the Reef C. Ivey II Excellence Fund Term Professor of Law. She specializes in intellectual property law, with a particular focus on the intersection of law and creativity. Gerhardt teaches Arts Entrepreneurship, Art Law, Copyright Law,Trademark Law and Contracts. In 2018, Gerhardt was awarded UNC’s Distinguished Teaching Award for Post-Baccalaureate Instruction. She has written many influential essays and articles on copyright, trademark and law and entrepreneurship. Her work has appeared in the Notre Dame Law Review, the Journal of the Copyright Society and Slate.

Prior to joining the faculty at UNC, Gerhardt clerked for the Honorable Judge John M. Manos in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio and practiced in the intellectual property section at Jones Day Reavis & Pogue in Cleveland, Ohio. She earned her A.B. degree from Duke University and her J.D. degree cum laude from Case Western Reserve School of Law where she was the Executive Notes Editor of the Law Review.


  • J.D. (cum laude), Case Western Reserve University (1990)
  • A.B., Duke University (1987)

Selected Publications

Copyright Publication on the Internet, 60 IDEA 1 (2020).
Westlaw | Lexis/Nexis | Hein

A Masterclass in Trademark's Descriptive Fair Use Defense, 52 AKRON L. REV. 739 (2018).
Westlaw | Lexis/Nexis | Hein

Beware the Trademark Echo Chamber: Why Federal Courts Should Not Defer to USPTO Decisions, 33 BERKELEY TECH. L.J. 643 (2019).
Westlaw | Lexis/Nexis | SSRN | Hein | BEPress | Document Link

Owning Colors (with Jon McClanahan Lee), 40 CARDOZO L. REV. 2483 (2019).
Westlaw | Lexis/Nexis | SSRN | Hein | BEPress

Trademarks as Entrepreneurial Change Agents for Legal Reform, 95 N.C. L. REV. 1519 (2017).
Westlaw | Lexis/Nexis | SSRN | Hein | BEPress

Copyright at the Museum: Using the Publication Doctrine to Free Art and History, 61 J. Copyright Soc'y U.S.A. 393 (2014).
Westlaw | Lexis/Nexis | SSRN | Hein

Lexmark and the Death of Initial Interest Confusion,  LANDSLIDE Sept.-Oct. 2014 at 22 (2014).
Westlaw | Hein

Do Trademark Lawyers Matter? (Jon P. McClanahan and Deborah R. Gerhardt), 16 STAN. TECH. L. REV. 583 (2013).
Westlaw | Lexis/Nexis | SSRN | Hein | BEPress | Document Link

Social Media Amplify Consumer Investment in Trademarks, 90 N.C. L. Rev. 1491 (2012).
Westlaw | Lexis/Nexis | SSRN | Hein | BEPress

Copyright Publication: An Empirical Study, 87 NOTRE DAME L. REV. 135 (2011). [Data]
Westlaw | Lexis/Nexis | SSRN | Hein | BEPress

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