Morningstar Law Group – Raleigh Law Firm – Durham NC Attorneys

We've Moved! Our Raleigh office is now located at 434 Fayetteville Street, Suite 2200, Raleigh, NC 27601.

John Kivus knows software.

As a software attorney and intellectual property lawyer with over a decade of experience, John uses his deep engineering expertise to help software companies avoid and resolve complex legal disputes. His software expertise allows him to effectively prevent or resolve disputes through contracts, transactions, or litigation by providing strategic advice based on detailed, up-to-the-minute industry knowledge. John also works closely with a variety of other businesses and individuals on intellectual property disputes.

>John’s litigation and dispute resolution work focuses on software companies in conflict with other companies or individuals. These disputes frequently relate to the licensing and ownership of software and often involve IP issues such as copyright and trade secrets. His breadth of experience working on software projects for major corporations — Bank of America, Costco, DirecTV, and others – provides him the earned knowledge to help his clients decipher the complex interplay between technical, factual, and legal issues. His technology background also enables him to speak the same language as experts on complicated matters, including software code analysis and system architecture which can significantly expedite the early-stage navigation of disputes.

John also helps software companies avoid disputes. He spent years as a software engineer developing products for companies such as Amdocs, AT&T, Motricity, and NetApp before turning his attention to law and intellectual property. John uses his knowledge of software development and litigation experience to advise companies on how best to avoid pitfalls that may lead to litigation in the first place. He also drafts contracts and guides companies through transactions to help sidestep common issues that he sees in litigation.

On the trademark side, John is a focused voice for his clients. He manages their trademark and copyright portfolios and ensures their IP rights are enforced and secure. John prepares copyright and trademark registrations and renewals in jurisdictions where his clients are active or anticipating doing business. He also successfully represents clients in Trademark Trial and Appeals Board (TTAB) proceedings, cancellations, oppositions, and related negotiations. John regularly handles trademark litigation in the business and federal courts.

Finally, John is a fan of pop culture and uses his legal skills to help artists protect their IP rights. His clients include authors, artists, comic book creators, photographers, and other individuals who produce creative works. He advises them on both the intellectual property and business aspects of their work.

John’s experience includes cases involving the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA), and Anti-Cybersquatting Piracy Act (ACPA), as well as claims of copyright infringement, breach of contract, breach of license, and unfair and deceptive trade practices. John has also successfully defended against complaints under the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP).

A native of Maine, John currently lives in Raleigh with his wife, Elyssa, who is a professional photographer.

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Never let your book work get in the way of your education.


  • Best Lawyers: Litigation – Intellectual Property (2020-2024)
  • Business North Carolina Legal Elite: Young Guns (2018), Intellectual (2024)
  • Super Lawyers Rising Star (2016-2021)

Representative Experience

  • Defended a large, publicly-traded software company against claims including breach of contract, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, unfair and deceptive trade practices, negligence, and conspiracy
  • Defended a privately-held software development company against claims including breach of contract, violation of N.C. Trade Secrets Act, federal Computer Fraud and Abuse and N.C. Computer Trespass Act, unjust enrichment, tortious interference with contractual relations, and violation of state unfair and deceptive trade practices act
  • Serves as a consultant for out-of-state counsel in software disputes involving breach of license and copyright infringement
  • Represents software developers against breach of license and copyright infringement claims
  • Defends software companies in disputes involving breach of contract and breach of warranty claims
  • Defends domain holders in Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) proceedings

Presentations & Publications

  • The Laws of Cloud Computing: Cloud Security and Data Privacy Laws in the United States (2015)
  • The Laws of Cloud Computing: Business Issues Arising From Cloud Computing (2015)


  • University of North Carolina School of Law, J.D. (2011)
    North Carolina Journal of Law and Technology: Online Editor and Staff Member
  • Clemson University, B.S. (2003) with honors
    Calhoun Honors Scholar


  • North Carolina State Bar (2011)
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina
  • U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit


  • Rotary Club of Crabtree