Landis+Gyr is the leading global provider of integrated energy management solutions for the utility sector. With global headquarters in Zug, Switzerland, and the Americas headquarters in Alpharetta, Landis+Gyr operates in more than 30 countries across five continents and employs about 6,000 people. It has annual sales of about $1.7 billion and underwent a successful IPO last year. Heather McNay is group intellectual property counsel for Landis+Gyr.
Landis+Gyr has 13 attorneys worldwide, four of whom are located in the firm’s Alpharetta office. David Wilson is vice president and general counsel for the Americas (North, Central and South America), and supporting him are McNay and attorneys Rachel Port, Cheryl Brogan and contract manager Sonia Jensen. McNay focuses on IP matters globally and for the Americas, and she assists both Port and Brogan, who concentrate on commercial and vendor projects, respectively.
“We are a lean legal team, but we still handle most of the work in-house,” McNay says, adding that the department relies on outside counsel primarily for litigation, patent prosecution and other specialized legal matters.
McNay says time zones are among the major challenges of representing internal clients globally.
“When I start my day, I am able to check in with our group general counsel, Charles Pellissier, in Zug, Switzerland, in the middle of his day,” she says. “I work with all of the attorneys in his office on IP matters, including the management of the global trademark portfolio.”
McNay usually works via email for her colleagues in India, Finland, Japan and Australia. For her local Americas team, she also assists with IP matters, especially licensing and indemnification.
In addition, McNay is working to unify the company in its protection of intellectual property and recently drafted and released a new Global IP Policy and Landis+Gyr’s first global Inventor Bonus program.
“For patent portfolio management, I have inventors all over the globe, which sometimes requires conference calls at odd hours,” she says. “I am trying to visit every site where we have engineering and development work. I believe it is important for all potential inventors to understand what is patentable, what constitutes a trade secret and what steps to take to protect company IP.”
Route to the Top
McNay graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in electrical engineering and earned her JD from the University of Georgia. She went in-house early in her career and has worked for Siemens, Credigy, TSYS and now Landis+Gyr, where she has been for nine years. Starting out as the IP counsel for the Americas, McNay was promoted to global IP counsel for Landis+Gyr in 2015. In 2016, Atlanta Business Chronicle named her Outstanding Specialist Counsel.
McNay is married with two children and enjoys hiking, kayaking and spending time with her extended family, many of whom live in the Atlanta area.
She also enjoys participating in the Georgia Tech Intellectual Property Guest Lecture Program, where she has taught intellectual property basics to business, engineering and physics classes.
“The Georgia Tech students are very receptive to learning about the intellectual property they create and about possible careers in IP,” McNay says.
“All Over the Place: Adventures in Travel, True Love, and Petty Theft,” by Geraldine DeRuiter, a humorous memoir in which DeRuiter admits to being socially awkward and having no sense of direction, yet succeeding as a travel blogger.
“Actually, I listened to it during my commute, which relieves stress and keeps me from looking at my phone,” McNay says.