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Michelle K. Lee Appointed Deputy Director of U.S. Patent Office

michelle_k_lee_congressman_mike_hondaU.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today announced the appointment of Michelle K. Lee as the next Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Lee currently serves as the Director of the USPTO’s Silicon Valley satellite office and will begin her new role at USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, VA, on January 13, 2014.

While Director of the USPTO’s Silicon Valley satellite office, Lee has served as the agency’s primary liaison with the innovation community in the Silicon Valley and West Coast, leading the establishment of a temporary office in Menlo Park and working creatively with California’s Congressional, state, and local leadership to successfully secure a permanent office location in San Jose. In that role, she has also been actively engaged in education and outreach initiatives, empowering the USPTO to more effectively develop programs, policies, and procedures to meet the needs of the West Coast innovation community.

Beyond the Silicon Valley office, Lee has also played a broader role in helping shape key policy matters impacting the nation’s intellectual property (IP) system, focusing closely on efforts to continually strengthen patent quality, as well as curbing abusive patent litigation. Prior to becoming Director of the Silicon Valley USPTO, Lee served two terms on the USPTO’s Patent Public Advisory Committee, whose members are appointed by the U.S. Commerce Secretary and serve to advise the USPTO on its policies, goals, performance, budget and user fees.

An engineer and attorney by training, Lee has developed a distinguished career over the past 25 years focused on various key facets of patent law, technology, and innovation policy in private practice, industry, and the executive and judicial branches of the federal government.

Prior to joining the USPTO, Lee served as Deputy General Counsel for Google and was the company’s first Head of Patents and Patent Strategy. She also served as a partner at the Silicon Valley-based law firm of Fenwick & West, where she specialized in advising a wide range of high-technology clients from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies on all aspects of patent law, intellectual property, litigation and corporate matters.

Prior to her career as a legal advisor to technology companies, Lee worked in the federal judiciary, serving as a law clerk for the Honorable Vaughn R. Walker on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and the Honorable Paul R. Michel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Before building her legal career, Lee worked as a computer scientist at Hewlett-Packard Research Laboratories, as well as at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. She holds a B.S. and an M.S. in electrical engineering and computer science from M.I.T., as well as a J.D. from Stanford Law School.

Upon assuming her role as USPTO Deputy Director, Lee will perform the functions and duties of the USPTO Director, a position that is currently vacant. In accordance with statutory law, she will assume the title of “Acting Director” once President Obama nominates a Director.

Source: Commerce Department

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