Michelle K. Lee is the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office

After a long wait, the PTO has finally responded to my question of “Who is the PTO Director”:

[T]he Agency is responding that Michelle K. Lee is the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office and Anthony P. Scardino
is the Acting Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

The letter:


I still do not sufficiently understand  DC politics to grasp why the Dir. Lee’s position was not public for the past 50+ days, but I am glad that we may now return to some semblance of normalcy in relations between the USPTO and the public.

59 thoughts on “Michelle K. Lee is the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office

  1. 14


    You had to file a FOIA request?

    It might have been easier to bug their microwave oven:

    Claims (3)
    translated from Chinese
    1. Microwave camera monitoring, characterized by comprising: a microwave oven (1), camera (2), signal transmission means (3), camera (2) Install a microwave oven (1) which, more than one, up and down, left and right, can be fixed , swap, moving, rotating, stretching, bending, choose autofocus.
    A microwave oven as surveillance camera according to claim 1, characterized in that the signal transmission means (3) is mounted a microwave oven (1) inside, outside, may be wireless, wired transmission such as Ethernet ports and IEEE802.11b wireless LAN port , Bluetooth, ultrawideband, GSM / GPRS / PHS, infrared, other wired, wireless port, etc.
    3. The microwave surveillance camera according to claim 1, characterized in that the camera of the present invention (2), signal transmission means (3) can be used in a variety of electrical products such as refrigerators, ovens, dishwashers, electric cooker, baking dry, multifunction food cooking machine, dish dryer, barbecue machines, vending machines were incubated machine, and preservation machines, freezers, ovens.

    link to patents.google.com

      1. 14.1.1

        I was wondering if there weren’t some patents for what the media was saying “wurze impossiblz!” It didn’t seem very impossible.


          the media was saying “wurze impossiblz!”

          The “media” said that it was impossible to mount a camera on a microwave oven?

          Which “media” was that, o super serious one?

  2. 13

    Hey, maximalists: here’s a great candidate for PTO Director. And she’s looking for a job!

    Mayer is set to receive a $23 million severance package after Yahoo’s (YHOO, Tech30) sale to Verizon (VZ, Tech30) is completed, according to a company filing Monday.

    The golden parachute package comes on top of the more than $150 million Mayer received in salary and stock awards since joining the company in 2012.

    As a bonus, she’s got tons of money so “she can’t be bribed.” We all know that’s a very important feature for you, in addition to her “deal making” and her ability to l i e right in your face without any hint of a conscience lurking behind her eyeballs.

  3. 12

    I guess they “lost” her letter of resignation “before” it “was” “accepted”.

    Move along. Nothing to see here….

    1. 12.1

      Unless of course, they did not…

      Let’s not forget that Watergate led to a downfall LESS for the initial action and MORE for the subsequent actions.

      1. 12.1.2

        I see you’ve noticed the sarcasm.

        In addition to your observations, can you riddle me this, IS the following true or false or “immune” from “self-impeachment”:

        “I’m saying that the world is flat”

        Query the language:
        “the Agency is responding that…”
        and whether it is meant to protect anyone…


          IS the following true or false or “immune” from “self-impeachment”:

          “I’m saying that the world is flat”

          It’s false. Because when you utter those words, you’re not saying “the world is flat.” You’re saying that you’re saying that the world is flat.

          Even if you said “I’m saying that I’m saying that the world is flat” you’d still uttering a falsehood.

          This is deep stuff. Totally reminds me of Watergate. LOL


            LOL …

            I se,e so when the agency says:

            “The agency is responding that Lee is the director”

            THAT statement is false because when the agency utters those words it is “responding that it is responding that Lee is the Director”

            So much for protecting themselves from uttering false statements, right?

            I mean “Even if” they said “the agency is responding that it is responding” it would still be “uttering a falsehood”.

            You are right. Deep stuff.


    2. 12.2

      Kind of agree. Move along. Who cares. Trump wants her in and who cares if her resignation letter was accepted or not. Come on.

      I do not want Lee. She is a Google puppet. But, let’s find real reasons.

  4. 9

    OT, please forgive me. Will there be a future posting on Thales Visionix v. US? This would, I think, be an interesting case, but it seems to me that the CAFC panel could be faulted for failing to focus their discussion on the claims. Are the claims collectedly directed to mathematics in abstracto? I suggest, No. Are the claim directed to merely applying the mathematics in a particular technological environment? I suggest, No. Reading the specification, it seems that there is plenty to anchor the subject matter to traditional patentable subject matter: from five miles high, these claims are more Diehrish than Flookish. But a Mayo/Alice analysis as described by SCOTUS in Mayo, requires specific analysis of claim language. After all, the claimed invention in the exemplary claim in Mayo lies between a medical use in the prior art and a therapeutic improvement to a medical use, which arguably might or would have been patent-eligible under Mayo/Alice is the claim had included the extra step of varying the dosage of the medication.

    Looking to claim 1 of the Thales Visionix patent, my eye is caught by the moving reference frame. To me, those words scream out abstract idea. But then how can a mobile tracking device be mounted on an abstract idea. So one might expected mounted on the moving reference frame should probably be construed as mounted on some body that is in motion relative to the surface of the earth, or some similar construction that places this claim element within the domain of physical reality. But then there is the claim element which specifies an element of a system that is adapted to receive signals … and configured to determine an orientation. This is surely essentially a means-plus-function claim that, until recently under CAFC precedent, would not have triggered 112(f) through failure to include the magic word means. I would suggest here that means-plus-function is essentially bound up with patent-eligibility analysis, in that it determines how to construe an otherwise abstract claim element, in terms of embodiments in the specification and their equivalence so as to determine the metes and bounds of the claim in non-abstract terms. So under a 101 analysis that SCOTUS might eventually enforce, presumably the CAFC does not get round to doing so earlier, for a claim incorporating an element that is adapted to or configured to perform some function, the alternatives might be to tank the claim under 101, resolve the abstraction out of the claim element under 112(f), or look for the something else in the other claim elements individually, or in the claim elements in combination. In the case of Thales Visionix, I could envisage the configured element to be resolved in means-and-function terms in terms of the disclosed embodiment and equivalents which, in this case, might give reasonably wide but nevertheless limited coverage commensurate to what is disclosed. And, even if claim 1 failed under 101 as crossing from mere overbroadness to abstraction, there is a sequence of dependent claims increasing in specificity so as not to be at issue under 101. Again, apologies for the OT.

      1. 9.1.1

        In other words, where people “on the curve” were, a full year before SCOTUS decided Mayo v. Prometheus (decided March 20, 2012).

    1. 9.2

      1. A system for tracking the motion of an object relative to a moving reference frame, comprising:

      a first inertial sensor mounted on the tracked object;

      a second inertial sensor mounted on the moving reference frame; and

      an element adapted to receive signals from said first and second inertial sensors and configured to determine an orientation of the object relative to the moving reference frame based on the signals received from the first and second inertial sensors.

      Take two signals from two separate sensors and do some math using (wait for it!) “an element” that does the math. Wow.

      It’s not entirely clear to me whether the “tracked object” actually needs to be moving for this claim to be infringed.

      Also, this is getting a bit silly: Just as claims directed to a new and useful technique for defining a database that runs on general-purpose computer equipment are patent eligible, Enfish, 822 F.3d at 1337–38, so too are claims directed to a new and useful technique for using sensors to more efficiently track an object on a moving platform.

      Memory refresher: the “new and useful” claims in Enfish were obvious junk.

      Using sensors to track stuff is about as obvious as a method gets. Putting sensors on moving objects are old in the art. Receiving signals from those sensors and calculating stuff based on the signals is also old as the hills. The CAFC’s position that you can somehow distinguish the prior art merely by reciting “an element configured to determine a super exciting result based on the signals” is ins @ne.


            …and you think otherwise?

            (I know that you FEEL otherwise, so my question is a little different than that)

      1. 9.2.2

        Please, please, please, identify one claim in an issued patent that you belive is legitimately granted. Just one.

  5. 8

    Ned Heller: The administration is supposed to be dedicated to dismantling the administrative state. If Lee thwarts that objective in this brief, all H will break loose.


    The cognitive dissonance here is remarkable.

    1. 8.1

      MM, what is almost like saying that Democrats favor good government as if goodness has anything to do with why Democrats like government.

    2. 8.2

      The cognitive dissonance here is remarkable.

      LOL – trying to co-opt my observation of you….

      The Accuse Others meme in work – by a real piece of work….

  6. 7

    Maybe Lee was the person who told Trump that Obama had wire-tapped him.

    Someone should investigate that.

    1. 7.1

      Well MM, the long knives seem to be out in Congress about NSA spying on Americans. My understanding is that Obama assured Congress that the NSA program exposed by your pal Snowden could never be used to eavesdrop on Americans. Well, that was a lie. Congress may now curtail or end the NSA program.

      You Dems are really something when it comes to abusing power.

  7. 5

    As to why 50+ days? She had to get an appointment to kiss the president’s ring. As to why no document (requiring an administrative response)? “Be a good little girl and I won’t accept your resignation”

    1. 5.1

      Beethoven, obviously there is something very wrong with you on many fronts to have posted this.

      She came out right after Ross was confirmed as Sec. of Commerce, exactly as I predicted. It was Ross that wanted to keep her on.

      1. 5.1.1


        Pretending that there are not untoward machinations afoot is far worse than the comments of Beethoven.


          Anon, the only thing I can see is that Ross said that if he was confirmed that she was his choice to be Director, thereby explaining the delay. Perhaps they discussed policy as well as a condition for her staying on. It was my understanding that Lee would support patents as property, and try to begin to level the playing field recognizing that the current state of affairs had gone too far in favor of efficient infringement.



            The only thing you see is what you want to see.

            That’s why you abandon conversations whenever things become inconvenient for you, and then give bogus reasons about having conversations by blaming someone else.

  8. 3

    I love simplistic FOIA requests.

    I made a few in my day already and damed if they don’t try to weasel out of answering like a million times.

    1. 3.1

      In the present case, 6, compare and contrast this request to the request that is being discussing on the Quinn blog (where there the requester made such a different request so as to allow for weaseling to occur).

      This request here did NOT provide that weasel outlet, and taking (or rather, trying to take) that weasel path results in the answer provided NOT being a proper answer.

      The government does not “get” a mulligan with providing such improper answers.

      Which all in all points out the fact that something indeed is going on here. If everything were kosher, there would be NO NEED for such gamesmanship.

      Since the games are being played, it is only logical that the games need to be played.

      We need more sunlight on this than ever before!

      1. 3.1.1

        I think they actually did weasel out of the question in this case, by waiting until the situation was resolved and then crafting a responsive document (i.e., the letter they sent to Dennis was the responsive document). The real question we all want answered is, who was the director as of [insert date after Lee’s resignation but before Ross became Secretary of Commerce], and they didn’t answer that.


          There quite as well be more to that, given that if the resignation was accepted (as it generally thought to be the case, then Ms. Lee cannot re-become the Director without going through the proper process – even if that is what is desired by those outside of the Patent Office (the “Agency”).

          The wording is simply “too clever by half,” and raises more questions than it purports to answer.

    1. 2.1

      The H means compare the question and the answer and note the disconnect.

      The request asked for a “document” (a FOIA request can only request documents, in the manner of a request to produce documents, not a question in the manner of an interrogatory).

      The letter responds as if it were an interrogatory.

      1. 2.1.1

        “(a FOIA request can only request documents, in the manner of a request to produce documents, not a question in the manner of an interrogatory).”

        That’s true but you can allow for them to just answer a question instead of chasing down documents.


            …as such leads to the rather evident game playing in the present “answer”

            This particular “answer” fails to satisfy the FOIA request.

            The requestee is now in violation of the timing requirements.


              Does the “reply” letter itself purport to be the requested “document” and thus satisfy the FOIA request?

              Although certain conditions as to the content of the “document” were made, the nature, type, and other particulars of the document (internal, memo, addressee) were not specified. [ at least it is not evident that it was specified in the request]


                Too clever by half (the request is for existing documents, and post created documents will not suffice).

  9. 1

    Dennis, if Lee responds to the Oil States petition for certiorari with more …. that patents are public rights and that IPRs are therefor constitutional, the long knives will emerge. The administration is supposed to be dedicated to dismantling the administrative state. If Lee thwarts that objective in this brief, all H will break loose.

    And, admittedly, if Lee changes positions, the other side will go apoplectic as well.

    1. 1.1

      Lee will be answering to Trump and Sessions on this issue. If the USPTO maintains its position, blame the executive branch. Given the power at stake, I’d be surprised if the executive branch changes its position. It is up to the SCOTUS to preserve the separation of powers.

      1. 1.1.1

        It is up to the SCOTUS to preserve the separation of powers.

        Truly, the blind leading the blind….

      2. 1.1.2

        So true that it is up to SCOTUS to protect the separation of powers and even more so when it is the judicial department that is being invaded. As we all know, that is not going to come from the CAFC. But a funny thing happened, Trump got elected. And now at least 4 on SCOTUS that would have otherwise been stone deaf to the ‘As if the President himself is revoking the patent’ argument, see 35 USC 6, will be all about the rigors, constructs, protections, etc imposed by out Const. et etc. #Bestelectionever.


          You make a good point – and draws into deep contrast the possibility of the huge Donkey CRPfest that would have been a distinct possibility if Hilary had won.


          This is what the Framers and early Justices wrote about at length: politicians come and go per the whims of the electorate, and subjecting the judicial power to such whims is highly destabilizing.

          In many respects, the PTAB has become a case study as how and why the Framers and Justices were right then and remain right today.

      1. 1.2.1

        Has the Administration actually responded to any petitions on there? I seem to recall a petition for tax returns that was signed by lots more people than the response threshold, but I don’t recall any Administration response.


          Yes, find the tab that shows the responded to petitions.

          I don’t know about the tax return one, and I don’t know if Trump has gotten around to making a response. It takes awhile sometimes.

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