Deborah R. Gerhardt

Paul B. Eaton Distinguished Professor of Law

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 Carolina 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, Intellectual Property Law and Trademark Law. In 2018, Gerhardt was awarded UNC’s Distinguished Teaching Award for Post-Baccalaureate Instruction. Gerhardt has written many influential essays and articles on copyright, trademark, entrepreneurship, and art law. Her current scholarship focuses on arts leadership, public memory, nontraditional trademarks, and race and gender equity in intellectual property prosecution. In 2022, Gerhardt was named as a member of the USPTO’s Trademark Public Advisory Committee. 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.


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

Selected Publications

An Empirical Study of Gender and Race in Trademark Prosecution (with M. Marcowitz-Bitton and W. M. Schuster), 94 S. Cal. L. Rev. 1407 (2022).
Westlaw | Lexis/Nexis | SSRN | Hein | BEPress

Law in the Shadows of Confederate Monuments, 27 MICH. J. RACE & L. 1 (2022).
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The Gender Gap in Academic Patenting (with M. Marcowitz-Bitton and W. M. Schuster), 56 U. C. DAVIS L. REV. 759 (2022).
Westlaw | Lexis/Nexis | SSRN | Hein | BEPress

The Last Breakfast with Aunt Jemima and its Impact on Trademark Theory, 45 COLUM. J. L. &  ARTS 231 (2022).
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Copyright Publication on the Internet, 60 IDEA 1 (2020).
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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

Consumer Investment in University Brands, 29 LOY. CONSUMER L. REV. 95 (2016).
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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

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