Senate Confirms Michelle Lee to be Director of the USPTO

By Gene Quinn
March 9, 2015

michelle-lee-brookings-01-22-2015aEarlier today the United States Senate confirmed Michelle Lee to head the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a position that has been vacant since the resignation of David Kappos at the end of January 2013. Lee’s official title will be Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which is the second longest title in Washington. The only longer title is her previous position as Deputy Director, which is identical to her new title except for using the word “deputy” twice.

Lee has been serving as Deputy Director of the USPTO since January 2014.  Previously, she served at USPTO as the Director of the Silicon Valley Office from 2012 to 2013. Immediately prior to becoming Director of the Silicon Valley Patent Office, Lee was the Deputy General Counsel and Head of Patents and Patent Strategy at Google Inc.

Innovation Alliance Executive Director Brian Pomper released the following statement regarding the confirmation today of Michelle Lee as Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office:

We congratulate Ms. Lee on her confirmation as Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  Ms. Lee has served admirably in the Obama Administration as a voice of reason urging a balanced approach when examining changes to the patent system.

The startups, independent inventors, venture capitalists, universities, and companies of all sizes who have voiced concerns with many of the sweeping changes being proposed in Congress can look to her to ensure their perspective is heard in the administration and among policymakers in Washington, DC. 

We look forward to working with Ms. Lee in her new capacity to ensure that the patent system continues to be a force for innovation and job creation in the United States for entities of all sizes.

Erich Andersen, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel at Microsoft, had this to say about the Senate’s confirmation of Lee:

Having the right leaders to serve as Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator is critical to the future health of our patent and intellectual property systems and to American innovation. Microsoft applauds the Senate’s confirmation of Michelle Lee and Daniel Marti to lead those important organizations. We look forward to working with Ms. Lee and Mr. Marti to help ensure the U.S. continues set the pace in innovation and technology.

The Senate also confirmed Daniel Marti to become the new Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, a position within the White House that is sometimes referred to as the “IP Czar.”

UPDATED: 7:20pm ET on Monday, March 9, 2015, to add Microsoft’s statement.

The Author

Gene Quinn

Gene Quinn is a Patent Attorney and Editor and founder of IPWatchdog.com. Gene is also a principal lecturer in the PLI Patent Bar Review Course and an attorney with Widerman Malek. 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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