On Wednesday, February 11, 2015, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michelle Lee, who is the Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The interview took place at the National Press Club and was a part of a Technology Policy Institute program titled Patents in Theory and Practice: Implications for Reform. You can watch the interview below.
During our interview Lee explains that she is supportive of expanding trade agreements currently under consideration in Congress, that she looks forward to working on patent quality and receiving feedback from stakeholders on how the Office can better address patent quality, and she explained that the Office was pleased with the recent Federal Circuit ruling in In re Cuozzo Speed Technologies, which is the first appeal of a final decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) in an Inter Partes Review (IPR) proceeding.
As many will no doubt already know, Lee is currently the President’s nominee for the vacant position of Director of the USPTO, which also carries with it the title of Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property. She has already had two largely uneventful confirmation hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee (see here and here). It seems virtual certainty that she will soon be confirmed. Still, it is rather extraordinary for a nominee to open themselves up to questioning in this manner with a confirmation vote still pending.
My conversation with Lee was billed as a fireside chat, which took place during the luncheon at the end of the program. Those familiar with other interviews I’ve done no doubt know that my discussions with industry newsmakers can be quite long. In this forum the plan was to keep my Q&A with Lee to approximately 20 minutes so there would be time for questions from the audience. Of course, things went a bit longer than that, almost exactly 27 minutes, but Lee did stay for 11 minutes of Q&A with the audience.
My hope is that in the coming months I will be able to do a longer interview and profile of Director Lee. Stay tuned.