Congratulations to Director Michelle Lee

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. []

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.

7 thoughts on “Congratulations to Director Michelle Lee

  1. 4

    link to

    The Federal Circuit reversed a district court summary judgment that the claim term “a contact hole for source wiring and gate wiring connection terminals” was indefinite. The patent owner argued that the claim term required separate contact holes, one for the source wiring and one for the gate wiring connection terminals. The accused infringer argued that the claim term required a single hole for both types of connections. The district court held that the meaning of the claim term could not be resolved and held the claim indefinite.

    On appeal, the Federal Circuit noted that the practice of the industry at the time was to provide separate contact holes for each type of connection. Second, the Federal Circuit noted that the specification provided no description of a contact hole that could be used for both types of connections. Third, the Federal Circuit resorted to the original claims where the claim term was used consistently used to claim embodiments that had separate contact holes for each type of connection. Based upon this, Federal Circuit ruled that the proper claim construction was the two contact holes advocated by the patent owner and that the claim was not indefinite.


    Standard of review:

    • summary judgment: de novo
    • indefiniteness determination: de novo
    • claim construction on intrinsic record: de novo

      1. 4.1.1

        Night, thanks.

        I have been around patent law a long time, but I am still surprised on how much I do not know. I generally approach any issue with an open mind, including 101. My views on that topic have changed over time, but I think I understand the issue as well as anyone now — largely because of the extended discusses we have had here on Patently-O. This is a great place to learn.

        On 101, I think we are on the same page there as well. But we have to take this at small bites with specific examples just to make sure.

  2. 3

    To be the Director in this time of chaos is a chance of a lifetime to really make a difference.

    One suggestion: stop calling the requirement of candor a duty of disclosure. The duty is to be honest. In this regard, be proactive in limiting the number of references the applicant is entitled to file in IDSs.

  3. 1

    About time. I don’t think she is a good choice, but this Washington stuff of trench warfare is ridiculous.

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