Susan Freya Olive

Top rated intellectual property attorney in Durham, North Carolina

Olive & Olive, PA
Susan Freya Olive
Olive & Olive, PA

Practice Areas: Intellectual property, Intellectual property litigation; view more

Licensed in North Carolina since: 1976

Education: Duke University School of Law

Selected to Super Lawyers: 2006 - 2023

Olive & Olive, PA

500 Memorial Street
PO Box 2049
Durham, NC 27702 Visit website


Susan Freya Olive is the managing attorney at Olive & Olive, P.A. Focusing her practice exclusively on intellectual property transactions and litigation, she represents people and businesses throughout North Carolina from the firm’s offices in Durham. Ms. Olive is frequently asked to deliver lectures and other presentations on topics related to her practice area, and she has authored numerous published works on those matters.

Ms. Olive attended Brown University as an undergraduate, and she had an interdisciplinary major that included courses in computer programming, calculus, biomedical engineering and physiology. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts in 1974, she enrolled at Duke University School of Law, and in 1977, she was awarded her Juris Doctor with honors. Admitted to practice in North Carolina since 1976, Ms. Olive is additionally admitted to practice before the U.S. District Courts for the Eastern, Middle, and Western Districts of North Carolina, the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 4th and Federal Circuits, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces and the Supreme Court of the United States. 

Ms. Olive’s client base is composed of entrepreneurs, scientists, technology companies, insurance providers, and public and private colleges and universities, among others. She is well-versed in trademarks, patents, and copyrights, and her work has encompassed registration, protection against infringement, litigation, arbitration, mediation, and the preparation and review of documents involving licensing and other types of transactions. Recognized as one of the leading authorities in her fields of practice, Ms. Olive has received many honors and awards, including an AV Preeminent* peer review rating through Avvo. The former chair of the Intellectual Property Law Section of the North Carolina Bar Association, she is active in several legal and community organizations. 

*AV®, AV Preeminent®, Martindale-Hubbell Distinguished and Martindale-Hubbell Notable are certification marks used under license in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies. Martindale-Hubbell® is the facilitator of a peer review rating process. Ratings reflect the anonymous opinions of members of the bar and the judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Rating™ fall into two categories – legal ability and general ethical standards. 

Practice areas

Intellectual property, Intellectual property litigation

Focus areas

Copyrights, Patents, Trademarks, Intellectual property law

  • 60% Intellectual property
  • 40% Intellectual property litigation

First Admitted: 1976

Professional Webpage:

Pro bono/Community Service:
  • Philip’s Episcopal Church, Durham, NC, Member, Past vestry member, Sunday School teacher, Youth group leader, Lector 
  • North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services (largest legal services program in NC), Board of Directors, Past Chair and Treasurer
  • Durham Young Lawyers Association, Board of Directors, 1978-1979
  • Mental Health Association in Durham County, Board of Directors, 1979-1983 and Chair, Legislation Committee, 1980-1982
  • Brown University National Alumni Schools Program, Regional Chair, 1977-2004
  • Durham County Bar Association Public Service Committee, Co-Founder and Co-Chair
  • Urban Ministries of Durham (Homeless Shelter) – Board Vice-Chair
  • Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, Member/participant
  • Urban Ministries of Durham – Incorporated the UMD Endowment, Volunteer on endowment campaign, past Board Chair and Treasurer
  • Duke University Alumni
  • Duke Law Alumni
Scholarly Lectures/Writings:
  • Intellectual Property Workshops (presented to Minority Business Economic Development Council, Conference of Southern Presses, and Southern and Eastern Sections of the Society of Research Administrators)
  • “Protection of the Computer Hardware and Software Product: A Primer” (NC Bar Association seminar and paper)
  • “Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights and Trade Secrets” (half-day workshop for the Southern Section of the Society of Research Administrators – teaching manuscript has been widely used at Southern universities)
  • “Issues in Copyright” (nationally teleconferenced program produced by the North Carolina Department of Community Colleges)
  • “Cross-Examination of the Technical Expert Witness” (continuing education program of the UNC School of Law)
  • “Protection of Trademarks and Trade Secrets” (Entrepreneurship Conference at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business)
  • “Brief Introduction to Trademarks and Copyrights” (NC Bar Association seminar and paper)
  • “Work for Hire Issues, Who Owns What?” (NC Bar Association seminar and paper)
  • “Copyright Basics for the General Practitioner” (NC Bar Association seminar and paper)
  • “Trademark Basics” (NC Bar Association seminar and paper)
  • “Copyright Basics” (NC Bar Association seminar and paper)
  • “Publishing Contracts” (NC Bar Association seminar and paper)
  • “Patentable Subject Matter in the Post-Bilski Era” (NC Bar Association seminar and paper)
  • “Practice and Procedure in the Federal Courts of North Carolina” (NC Bar Association seminar and paper)
  • “Integrated Protection for Computer Programs” (NC Bar Association seminar and paper)
  • “Limitations on Trademark Protection: Fair Use and the First Amendment” (NC Bar Association seminar and paper)
  • “Copyrightability of Compilations After Feist Publications, Inc. V. Rural Telephone Service Co” (NC Bar Association seminar and paper)
  • “When and How to Seek Rule 11 and Rule 37 Sanctions” (NC Bar Association seminar and paper)
  • “New Rules at the Board of Patent Appeals & Interferences” (NC Bar Association seminar and paper)
  • “Copyright & the Works of Attorneys” (NC Bar Association seminar and paper)
  • “The Internet & You” (NC Bar Association seminar and paper)
  • “Communication in a Digital World” (NC Bar Association seminar and paper)
  • “Technology & the Practice of Law” (NC Bar Association seminar and paper)
  • “Intellectual Property: a Primer” (NC Bar Association seminar and paper)
  • “An Inventive Approach to Mental Health & Substance Abuse” (NC Bar Association seminar and paper)
  • Advisor to the North Carolina Secretary of State’s office on trademark matters
  • Assisted the Secretary of State’s Office in drafting amendments to North Carolina’s Trademark Act.
  • Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award – Marquis Who’s Who, 2018
  • Litigation victories have been the subject of articles in various journals including The National Law Journal (United States) and Trademark World (United Kingdom/Europe)
  • “Legal Elite Hall of Fame”, Elected as a permanent member of the “Legal Elite”
  • “Top Rated Lawyer in Intellectual Property” based on Martindale Hubbell peer review rankings, 2018 
  • Litigation Counsel of America – National trial lawyer honorary society, Fellow
  • North Carolina “Super Lawyer” – has appeared in multiple Super Lawyers Publications and gotten multiple awards, 2006 – 2020
  • “Top 50 Female Super Lawyers” (from the inception of ranking)
  • “Legal Elite” – Selected by North Carolina lawyers as one of NC’s best intellectual property attorneys each year since Business North Carolina magazine’s “Legal Elite” compilation began (the first woman so honored)
Bar/Professional Activity:
  • Durham County and Fourteenth Judicial District NC Bars (Past President, First woman to be elected to those positions)
  • Carolina Patent, Trademark and Copyright Law Association
  • The American Association for Justice
  • North Carolina Federal Bar Advisory Council, Chair 1989-1990, First female Chair, Four-term member, 1984-1993
  • North Carolina State Bar, Out of State Mergers Committee, 1984-1985
  • U.S. District Court, Middle District of North Carolina, Attorney Qualification Review Committee, 1984
  • North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys, President, 1993
  • North Carolina General Statutes Commission, Commissioner, 1991-1997
  • National Conference of Bar Examiners Technology Committee, 2005-2006
  • Ninth Judicial District of North Carolina, Special Counsel 1977-1979; Treasurer 2009-2012; Vice-Chair 2012-2013
  • U.S. Middle District Court of North Carolina, Research Committee for Court Annexed Arbitration, 1985-1989
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of North Carolina, Intellectual Property Rules committee, Member, 2006 – 2009
  • N.C. Advocates for Justice, Chair, Small Office Practice Section, 2012-2013
  • N.C. Advocates for Justice, Board of Governors
  • N.C. Bar Association, Nominations Committee, 1983-1984
  • N.C. Bar Association, Litigation Section and Constitutional Rights and Responsibilities Section, Member
  • N.C. Bar Association, Steering Committee, 1987-1988
  • N.C. Bar Association, Bar Center Cabinet, 1994-1996
  • N.C. Bar Association, Intellectual Property Law Section, Member and Section Council Member, 1989-1993 and 2007
  • N.C. Bar Association, Committee on Law and Technology, Founding Chair, 1989-1991
  • N.C. Bar Association, Committee on Mental Health Law, Chair, 1982-1984
  • N.C. Bar Association, Committee on Long Range Plan Implementation, Chair, 1997-1999
  • N.C. Bar Association, Committee on Intellectual Property Law (Three-term Chair; First woman to serve in that position 1984-1987)
  • American Bar Association, Intellectual Property Law Section and Co-Chair, Subcommittee on Patent/Trade Dress Interface
  • N.C. Bar Association, Board of Governors, 1988-1991
  • North Carolina Board of Law Examiners, Emeritus member – Board member 1993-2007, First female Chair of Board 2003-2004, Chair 2006-2007
  • American Bar Association, Forum Committee on Science and Technology
  • American Bar Association, Franchising Section
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 1984
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of North Carolina, 1984
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth and Federal Circuits, 1977
  • Chair of the North Carolina Bar Association Intellectual Property Law Committee, Founding Chair of its Law and Technology Committee, Past-President of the North Carolina Federal Bar Advisory Council, the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys, the 14th Judicial District Bar and the Durham County Bar Association, Chair of the North Carolina Board of Law Examiners and as a Member of the North Carolina General Statutes Commission
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern and Middle District of North Carolina, 1977
  • U.S. Court of Military Appeals, 1976
  • North Carolina, 1976
Educational Background:
  • Brown University, A.B., Majored in “The Medical-Legal Interface”, 1974

Office location for Susan Freya Olive

500 Memorial Street
PO Box 2049
Durham, NC 27702

Phone: 919-883-5102


18 Years Super Lawyers
  • Super Lawyers: 2006 - 2023

Top Lists

Top 50: Women North Carolina Super Lawyers: 2006 - 2007

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