by Dennis Crouch
The U.S. Senate has now confirmed President Obama’s nomination of Michelle Lee as Undersecretary of Commerce and Director of the USPTO. Congratulations to Director Lee on this expected but long awaited final step to filling the post left by David Kappos more than two years ago. Lee has been with the PTO since 2012 and was previously Google’s chief patent counsel.
We will see Director Lee staying the course that she has already set with a focus on patent quality and efficient operations. The larger and ongoing battles will be fought over patent litigation reform and the role of our post grant review system. Lee is the first female director of the agency, whose top three leaders are now all women (with Peggy Focarino as Commissioner of Patents and Mary Boney Denison as Commissioner of Trademarks).
I very much look forward to working with Director Lee and her team at the USPTO. As part of this, we’re hosting a patent quality summit at the USPTO on March 25-26, 2015. [http://www.uspto.gov/patent/initiatives/patent-quality-summit]
Lee will likely be given latitude in naming her deputy director. Hal Wegner – very often correct in his insight – suggests two potential candidates: Russ Slifer (Director of the USPTO Denver Office) and Christal Sheppard (Director of the USPTO Detroit Office). Slifer and Sheppard are current USPTO executives who have spent most of their careers outside the agency.