Intellectual Property

The Intellectual Property Practice Group provides comprehensive counsel and service to clients to meet their diverse needs for the recognition, acquisition, and safeguarding of their intellectual property, and to address domestic and international intellectual property acquisition and licensing, development and management, and dispute resolution. 


Our registered patent attorneys routinely practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO") and have experience in all areas of both domestic and international patent law.  Their experience includes patent preparation, prosecution, and registration; validity and freedom to operate analyses; portfolio management counseling and maintenance; strategic portfolio development and analytics; licensing; and litigation.  The technical expertise of our attorneys covers a broad spectrum of technological and scientific disciplines, including medical devices, geotechnical systems, microfluidic devices, textiles, boat manufacturing and systems, home appliances, electronics, computer hardware and software, chemicals, material sciences, food sciences, pharmaceuticals, pharmaceutical formulations, drug screening, diagnostic and therapeutic methods, DNA, RNA and protein molecules, DNA expression vectors, agricultural biotechnology including transgenic plants and plant products, yeast expression systems, anaerobic bacteria, antibodies, vaccine compositions, protein purification, cell culture systems and media, and enzyme assays, and biomanufacturing processes including polysaccharide isolation and purification, optimization of polysaccharide yield and molecular weight profiles, and polysaccharide and carrier protein conjugation. Several of our patent practitioners hold advanced degrees, including Master's Degrees and Ph.D's in biotechnology, chemistry, and molecular biology. We maintain established relationships with foreign associates in many countries around the world for the prosecution of international patent applications. 


Our trademark attorneys, including a North Carolina State Bar Board Certified Trademark Specialist, advise and help clients manage domestic and international trademark portfolios, including trademark and service mark selection, clearance, prosecution, registration, licensing, and enforcement.  We handle Trademark Customs Registrations, as well as domain name dispute resolution proceedings before various domestic and international forums.  Our focus is to protect and maximize the brand value for our clients.


Our copyright attorneys routinely work with the United States Copyright Office, conduct clearance searches, register claims of copyright, and secure rights through assignment, licensing, and "work for hire" agreements.  Our attorneys have counseled non-profit organizations and artists on copyright issues relating to music, art, and choreography, and also have experience working with universities on digital copyright issues related to distance learning and file sharing.  We also provide services for copyright licensing and enforcement.

Trade Secrets

Our attorneys whose practices include trade secrets matters provide not only counsel regarding the identification, preservation, and protection of trade secrets, but also representation under circumstances involving alleged or actual misappropriation of trade secrets.  We regularly represent clients in the North Carolina Business Court, where many contested trade secrets disputes are litigated and resolved.

Corporate and Transactional

Our corporate and transactional attorneys handle all transactional matters involving the full range of intellectual property and proprietary information agreements, including intellectual property licensing, transfers, and development policies; trade secret protection policies; employee and consultant confidentiality and intellectual property ownership agreements; organizational formation and structure; collaborative and sponsored research agreements; agreements relating to federal grants and contracts; material and data transfer agreements; and other matters involving information, technology, and proprietary systems.


Our litigation attorneys provide counsel and representation to clients in all aspects of intellectual property litigation, including patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secret enforcement; infringement and misappropriation defense; patent proceedings before the USPTO; trademark opposition and cancellation proceedings before the USPTO; license agreement disputes; and disputes regarding e-commerce systems and domain names.

Representative Clients and Commitment

Clients served by the Intellectual Property Practice Group include university and corporate entities, including manufacturers of products such as pharmaceutical equipment, medical devices, household appliances, textiles, ground improvement technologies, boats and marine accessories, farming equipment, waste management technology, and electronic equipment; banks and other financial institutions; health care providers; computer software programmers, vendors, and marketers; businesses with proprietary technologies; distributors; Internet service providers and other e-businesses; and other businesses with scientific, technological, or intellectual property interests.  Recognizing that full commercial development of intellectual property is often a global endeavor, we serve clients from around the world and maintain relationships with foreign associates for global acquisition and enforcement of intellectual property rights.

Our attorneys share the Firm's ongoing commitment to providing exceptional client service.  We are readily accessible to our clients, without regard to when a legal issue may arise, and our shared focus never strays from our core values of reliability and responsiveness.  We take an abiding interest in our clients, often drawing on the substantial knowledge and experience of other practice groups in the Firm – such as Agribusiness, Business, Dealer/Distributor and Franchising, Education, Health Care, International, Nonprofit Organizations, and Technology.

Our attorneys bring to their work a wide range of complementary experience, including engineering, biotechnology, chemistry, and architecture; manufacturing company management, strategic intellectual property consulting, and in-house counsel; judicial clerkships; university lecturers and law school adjunct faculty; and leadership in civic and community organizations.  They are licensed to practice before federal and North Carolina state courts, as well as the USPTO.  They also are active and hold membership or leadership positions in many professional organizations relating to their practice areas, including the American and North Carolina Bar Association Intellectual Property Law Sections, the American Institute of Architects, the American Intellectual Property Law Association, the Association of University Technology Managers, the Eastern North Carolina Inn of Court, the International Trademark Law Association, the Licensing Executives Society, and the North Carolina Advocates for Justice. 

With an economy that places a higher value on the intellectual assets of companies, and the need to address business decisions on a global level, the Intellectual Property Practice Group of Ward and Smith, P.A. stands ready to assist clients in all aspects of development and management of portfolio strategy, commercial exploitation, and the protection and enforcement of their intellectual property.

We are your established legal network with offices in Asheville, Greenville, New Bern, Raleigh, and Wilmington, NC.