Brian Way, Dolby Laboratories senior director of patent licensing
Brian Way, Dolby Laboratories senior director of patent licensing (Jason Doiy / The Recorder)

PALO ALTO — Altera’s longtime director of IP, Brian Way, has jumped to Dolby Laboratories as senior director of patent licensing.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Way will oversee patent licensing efforts at Dolby Labs in San Francisco, known for audio, video and voice technologies that have far-reaching entertainment and communications applications. The company derives nearly 90 percent of its revenue from licensing, mostly to international businesses, its annual report states.

Neither Way nor Dolby responded to a request for comment.

The company licenses patents—of which it has more than 3,500, plus 2,700 pending applications—directly to manufacturers and indirectly through patent pools. Dolby also manages patent pools on behalf of third-party owners through a subsidiary, Via Licensing Corporation.

The scope of Way’s role spans identifying and developing licensing opportunities and negotiating such agreements; investigating third-party use of Dolby’s patented technologies; and advising on portfolio development and potential acquisitions.

In his seven years at Altera, where he reported to general counsel Katherine Schuelke, Way developed the three-decade-old chip company’s intellectual property rights strategy and managed IP litigation, prosecution, licensing and portfolio acquisition efforts, as well as copyright, trademark, open source and anticounterfeiting efforts. He also helped grow the patent portfolio from around 2,000 to more than 3,000 patents.

Before coming to Altera, Way spent five years at Apple Inc., where he worked on patent litigation matters, as well as licensing, intellectual property valuation and patent prosecution issues. He’d worked at Morrison & Foerster and Hughes Hubbard & Reed, and he started his legal career clerking for a federal district court judge in the Southern District of New York.

Altera is now searching for Way’s replacement.

Over the past few years, Dolby has been bulking up its licensing prowess, and at the same time has been called on to mitigate the rising tide of vitriol toward companies that license technologies and are sometimes lumped in with patent trolls.

In June 2013, on the heels of news that Dolby had licensed a patent portfolio to Chinese telecommunications equipment company ZTE Corporation, general counsel Andy Sherman wrote on Dolby’s blog that “While we have a number of ways to resolve the misuse of Dolby’s IP, many of them tend to be time-consuming, messy, and costly. Such methods (lawsuits being an unfortunately common solution) tend to create adversarial relationships. At Dolby, we transform confrontation into cooperation, and adversaries into allies.”

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