Michelle Lee

U.S. Senate Confirms Former Google Executive Michelle Lee as Head of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

March 10, 2015 - Written By Stephen Sard

Former Google Inc executive Michelle Lee has received final confirmation by the Senate to officially take the helm of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The position – previously occupied by David Kappos – has been vacant since 2013. Lee has been acting director and got her start in the agency in 2012 when she was the first director of the patent office’s Silicone Valley site. Michelle Lee was chosen by United States President Barack Obama received approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee last week and was given final approval by an unrecorded vote today before a full Senate.

Lee will take the lead in an agency that covers more than 12,000 employees who spend the vast majority of their time determining if something should or should not be granted a United States Patent. This selection process and decision have been a source of hot contention lately as many have blasted the agency for approving weak software patents that have been a constant source of litigation that is bogging down the judicial system. Congress has been debating patent reform in an effort to relieve the overburdened legal system. Digital rights activist such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (or EFF), have been pushing for reform in patent laws as well with the hopes that the reform will spur innovation, make things fairer for all involved, and stop the slew of litigation brought on by the various patent trolls who seek to profit from the legal process of patent infringement. This will no doubt be one of the main issues facing Michelle Lee as she takes her new job as head of the agency. She will also have to face the burden of improving the process of approving patents. This process is currently experiencing long delays due to an insurmountable backlog that according to the agency’s website is over 600,000 unexamined patent requests.

Michelle Lee has a huge uphill climb ahead of her. But with her experience as Google’s head of patent strategy, Lee is certainly qualified for the job. It is the hope of the President of the United States along with the Senate that Michelle Lee will spearhead proper reform to ease the burden on the legal system as well as ensure that the backlog of request is handled in a more timely manner. It will be a huge job, but it should be one that Michelle Lee will fill and we hope make changes that will improve the system and make it more efficient while approving quality patents that can hold up better in court. Do you think this was a good move by the President of the United States and the United States Senate? Let us know your opinion on our G+ page, or in the comment section below. We would love to hear from you.