Correction: Michelle Lee on Patent Reform

By Gene Quinn
December 17, 2014

Michelle Lee, Dec. 10, 2014, at Senate confirmation hearing.

It has been brought to my attention that I inaccurately characterized USPTO Deputy Director Michelle Lee’s position on patent reform. I write today to correct the record.

At her confirmation hearing on December 10, 2014, I wrote that Lee’s position on patent reform seemed to shift throughout the hearing, pointing to what seemed to be contradictory answers to the questions of different Senators. In truth, I missed the full answer to the second question Lee received, focused on the first part of her answer, and unintentionally winded up quoting her out of context.

Near the beginning of the hearing Lee explained to Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) “there can and should be further legislation” to address patent trolls.

Later on during the hearing, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) explained that he was very skeptical about additional patent reform, reading a letter sent to him that morning from the Innovation Alliance, BIO, PhRMA, MDMA and 6 university associations, and explaining that he is continually told by constituents that Congress should go slow and proceed with extreme caution on patent reform. Durbin then, reading from the letter, said: “Taken together, these judicial and administrative developments, and the plunge in the patent litigation rate, have fundamentally changed the landscape under which patent legislation should be considered.” Durbin then turned to Lee and asked: “Do you agree?”

Lee’s initial response was: “I couldn’t agree more…” In the earlier article my quote ended there. I was surprised by those words, which in turn caused me to miss the rest of her answer to Senator Durbin. If you review Lee’s answer in its totality it becomes clear that she was not being inconsistent, although she did agree that the patent landscape has dramatically changed.

Lee’s full answer to Senator Durbin was as follows: “I couldn’t agree more that the patent landscape is changing dramatically. All of this needs to be taken into account as we carefully and cautiously determine what changes need to be made. We need balanced, meaningful reform.”

Thus, Lee did not agree with Senator Durbin’s main point, which seemed unequivocally to be that additional patent reform is not necessary at the moment, but did agree that the landscape has significantly changed. Taken in totality, it is fair to say that Lee was being consistent with her earlier response to Senator Grassley; namely that it is her position that additional reform is necessary, but that it needs to be balanced and pursued with caution.

 

The Author

Gene Quinn

Gene Quinn is a Patent Attorney and Editor and President & CEO ofIPWatchdog, Inc.. Gene founded IPWatchdog.com in 1999. Gene is also a principal lecturer in the PLI Patent Bar Review Course and Of Counsel to the law firm of Berenato & White, LLC. Gene’s specialty is in the area of strategic patent consulting, patent application drafting and patent prosecution. He consults with attorneys facing peculiar procedural issues at the Patent Office, advises investors and executives on patent law changes and pending litigation matters, and works with start-up businesses throughout the United States and around the world, primarily dealing with software and computer related innovations. is admitted to practice law in New Hampshire, is a Registered Patent Attorney and is also admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. CLICK HERE to send Gene a message.

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There are currently 2 Comments comments.

  1. FRANK LUKASIK January 5, 2015 7:37 am

    I just sent the Commissioner the status of Lucree v. US, 2014-5134, US Federal Court of Claims. I am waiting for the Court’s action. The major issue is: “Does the expiration of 1,350 Patents x 52 weeks = 70,200 per year meet the Court test that Patents need only be RATIONALLY related to the PROGRESS in science and the useful arts to survive judicial scrutiny”.

  2. Frank Lukasik April 18, 2015 11:26 am

    In Lucree v. U.S. I am filing an Appeal in the
    U.S. Supreme Court.