Innovating in the City of Cars

Visteon’s Dalpreet Saluja brings his considerable knowledge of technology to bear in the complex field of automotive electronics IP law

“Ever since I can remember, I’ve had an interest in new things, new technologies,” explains Dalpreet Saluja. “I wasn’t a tinkerer, I didn’t build things, but I was always interested in what tech does, how it works, what its purpose is.”

As associate general counsel and chief IP counsel for automobile technology company Visteon, Saluja oversees all the IP concerns for the nearly $3.2 billion company, from patents to trademarks, open source, copyright, litigation, transactions and more. “Anything that relates to IP for the company falls under my responsibility,” Saluja explains. It’s that interest that sustains him and keeps him passionate in his IP work, allowing him an opportunity to learn about new automobile electronics technologies that are happening three or five years down the road.

Dalpreet Saluja Visteon Corporation
Dalpreet Saluja, Visteon CorporationPhoto: Tejasvir Singh Rekhi

Saluja’s current passion for IP law is partially borne from his background in computer science, which has frequently interwoven with his primary line of work. Starting his career in the public sector as a patent examiner for the US Patent Office, Saluja sees this initial work as a solid foundation for the rest of his career—he got to see the ins and outs of how the patent office works, gaining a solid grasp of the rules and processes behind patent law. From there, he worked at IP boutique Brooks Kushman and automotive electronics firm Harman International Industries (acquired by Samsung Electronics in 2017) before settling into his current role.

This breadth of experience is particularly useful for Visteon, which recently changed direction from its history as a Tier 1 automotive supplier of traditional mechanical and electro-mechanical automotive parts into focusing strictly on cockpit electronics and technology solutions for connected and autonomous vehicles, as well as in the burgeoning autonomous driving space. “My expertise comes into play every day,” he says, helping him to better understand the products and patents he is called in to protect. Due to this understanding of technology, Saluja finds it easier to have conversations with engineers, ask the right questions, and push the conversation in ways that allow him to fight for stronger IP protection.

In an arena as vast and complicated as automotive electronics, Saluja must navigate many complex issues regarding IP in his work as chief IP counsel. “I have to ask, “What is it we’re doing here?’” he says. “Are we just protecting the algorithm?” In some instances, it may make sense for Visteon to look outside of patent protection for a new property—making these kinds of determinations is where Saluja’s understanding of technology intersects perfectly with his IP work. “Dalpreet’s strategy is to maximize the value of Visteon’s IP while minimizing costs,” says Matt Mowers, shareholder at Quinn IP Law. “With Dalpreet’s leadership, we are able to deliver high quality, cost-controlled IP rights that reflect Visteon’s standing as a global technology innovator.”

Saluja is often engaged in more than the pure IP function; he also does a great deal of cross-functional work for Visteon. “As chief IP counsel, my role is to interact with engineers,” he admits. “But really, it’s a role that encompasses multiple stakeholders across all levels.” He considers his role one in which he works with several groups at a time on any given project, whether it’s the engineering team, IT, human resources, management, or others.

This diversity of work within the role is part of what attracted Saluja to Visteon in the first place: “I have the opportunity to roll up my sleeves and work on other areas than just IP.” In addition to his primary responsibility as Visteon’s head of IP, Saluja also counsels the company’s other functions such as marketing and communications, IT, and purchasing. He also gets the chance to formulate and implement risk mitigation strategies for the company. Saluja relishes this chance to be more of a generalist: “It helps me think outside the box, keep other skills fresh and active, and gets me out of a pure IP focus.”

When he does focus on IP, however, Saluja works hard to elevate the visibility of IP within Visteon’s corporate culture. To achieve this goal, Saluja is implementing a number of programs to foster greater awareness of his department’s role in the company and a better understanding of how IP works. “It’s important to recognize the stakeholders who are most key to a robust IP program: innovators,” Saluja notes. “Without them, you don’t really have an IP program.”

As associate general counsel and chief IP counsel, Saluja feels he must be proactive in his role at Visteon, doing as much as he can to increase visibility within the company. To do this, Saluja frequently engages in outreach initiatives, including training sessions. When it comes to accomplishing these goals, Saluja recognizes that he and his IP team cannot be everywhere, so “you have to be creative about how and where you’re proactive.” Through his existing work, Saluja has strived to improve employee engagement throughout the company.

DICKINSON WRIGHT PLLC: “We commend Associate General Counsel and Chief Intellectual Property Counsel Dalpreet Saluja for his outstanding leadership at Visteon Corporation. We are pleased to work with someone at the forefront of innovation, inspiration, and possibilities.” –Jonathan D. Baker, Member