Hearing for Director Michelle Lee Nomination

It has now been 24 months since the USPTO has been led by a Senate confirmed director and, for the past year Michelle Lee has been in the limbo position as being de facto head of the USPTO without actually being named director or acting director.  In October 2014, President Obama finally nominated Lee to take over as Director of the USPTO and Undersecretary of Commerce.  Although a first confirmation hearing was held in 2014, Senators agreed to delay a confirmation vote until after the Republicans took over this term.

Acting quickly, new Republican chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley has acted quickly to schedule a new hearing for January 21 (with Senator Cornyn scheduled to preside). Barring some unforeseen complications, I expect that Lee will be confirmed as director forthwith despite the new Republican control of the Senate.  The hearing will also focus on Daniel Marti who has been nominated as the White House Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator — the so called IP Enforcement Czar.  That role began with Victoria Espinel in 2009 and focuses primarily on international counterfeiting and copyright enforcement.

As I wrote in December: It is Time to Confirm Michelle Lee.


9 thoughts on “Hearing for Director Michelle Lee Nomination

  1. 3

    Perhaps Miss Lee should be questioned about SAWS and just how many other “practical, internal” undocumented, uncontrolled, star chamber like efforts are in place that do not show up anywhere on the written record of patent applications…

    1. 3.1

      anon, perhaps congress will authorize applicant a way out of the PTO if their applications are not properly being examined. I would simply assume that if something can go wrong, it will go wrong. The PTO is fully capable of withholding a patent it doesn’t want issued for political reasons. Hyatt has been one such victim.

      That is why we need the court system — to protect us from the PTO.

      1. 3.1.1


        May I once again suggest that you check into the era of the Fourth Branch (the administrative agency era) and the APA?

        Yes, the courts do provide a check and balance mechanism.

        But that is NOT the only mechanism in place.

        I would also remind you that the courts themselves are checked and balanced as well / and that your calls for “Justice” would be more compelling if you were to be consistent in such calls as to the proper actions undertaken by the respective branches of government (e.g. the judiciary leaving the wax nose of 101 alone).

  2. 2

    I’ve been unimpressed with Michelle Lee, and think there are far better candidates out there for this job (such as Phil Johnson, whose rumored nomination scared the pants off of Google and friends). Too bad my wishful thinking won’t change the foregone conclusion of her confirmation – we could use a Director who understands something about the patent procurement process as well as the role patents play in innovation.

    1. 2.1

      Naysayer, I disagree in that I do believe that Lee will do an excellent job as USPTO Director. Phil Johnson would have also been very good but would have been contentious in his own right.

      From a practical point, President Obama has only two years remaining in his term. That basically means that Lee also has two years and then we’ll get a new director. If Lee pulls out before being confirmed then it is unlikely that we’d see a new director confirmed before 2016.


          Takes direction well but devoid of,ideas.

          Is that not the perfect fit for a front, a bagman as it were, for the person behind the scenes who wields that ongoing “internal so nobody has to know” other ‘quality’ setting power?

          Lee is a Dudas clone in that she is far too new to the beltway lifer politics in the entrenched administrative agency machine.

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