Ex-Google Exec Lee Nominated to Head USPTO

The White House's nomination of former Google executive Michelle Lee to be the next director of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) drew plenty of positive response from the computer and tech industry Friday.

Lee has been essentially heading the office as deputy director of the office following the departure of David Kappos in 2013. Before that, she was director of its Silicon Valley office in 2012-2013. From 2003 to 2012 she was deputy general counsel and head of patents and patent strategy at Google Inc.

From 2003 to 2012, Ms. Lee was deputy general counsel and head of patents and patent strategy at Google.

"Michelle Lee is an outstanding choice to run the Patent and Trademark Office," said Consumer Electronics Association President Gary Shapiro. "She brings a key understanding of how our patent system can support and catalyze American innovation. We urge the Senate to approve her nomination as expeditiously as possible.”

“A balanced and focused patent system is critical to innovation and it was wise of the Administration to appoint someone with such a deep understanding of patents whom we hope will seek the balance necessary to support both current innovators and next generation innovation," said the Computer & Communications Industry Association in a statement. "Lee has already signaled her understanding of the importance of improving patent quality, which will also help with the still-growing problem of patent trolls."

"We congratulate Ms. Lee on her nomination to be Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office," said the Innovation Alliance. "In her time at USPTO, she has demonstrated a nuanced appreciation of the complexity of the innovation ecosystem in the United States. Ms. Lee understands, as she recently stated, that policymakers must strive in the patent system to ‘achieve the right balance between curbing litigation abuses and maintaining a robust patent enforcement regime.’"

“Michelle Lee is an outstanding choice to lead the Patent and Trademark Office," said Linda Moore, president and CEO of TechNet. "She has the right combination of background and expertise to fight for America’s intellectual property and patent holders. When TechNet members met with Deputy Director Lee in June, she demonstrated not only a firm grasp of intellectual property policy, but she was fully cognizant of the damage caused by patent trolls, whose predatory lawsuits are exploiting America’s patent system and costing companies billions of dollars in unnecessary litigation and settlements."

The Patent Office has been in the media news of late given its role in denying federal protection to Redskins trademarks in June and its role in deciding whether over-the-top video providers qualify for a compulsory license.

“We congratulate Michelle Lee following the administration’s announcement that they intend to nominate her to be Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office," said Senator Chris Dodd, chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America. "Intellectual property rights are a key driver of creativity, innovation, and economic growth. We look forward to working with Ms. Lee to ensure that these rights remain robust and enforceable in this era of rapid technological change.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.