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Obama to nominate former Google executive to head PTO

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Oct 21, 2014

Michelle lee

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) – President Barack Obama said Thursday he intends to nominate Michelle K. Lee to head the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Lee currently is the deputy under secretary and deputy director of the PTO. She has held the position since January. 

The PTO has been without a permanent director since February 2013, when David Kappos resigned.

From 2012 to 2013, Lee served as director of the PTO’sSilicon Valley office, which won’t open until early 2015.

Before that, she was the deputy general counsel and head of patents and patent strategy at Google — one of the most vocal critics of the current patent system — for nine years.

Before joining Google, Lee was a partner and an associate at Fenwick & West LLP, from 1996 to 2003, and an associate at Keker & Van Nest LLP from 1994 to 1996.

She earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her law degree from Stanford.

Obama said in a statement he was confident Lee would “serve the American people well.”

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, in a separate statement, called Lee a “terrific talent” and said she was delighted at the President’s nomination.

“Michelle is a proven leader with strong management skills, having ably led the PTO since January, and keenly understands the importance of protecting the ideas and discoveries that form the backbone of our economy,” Pritzker said, adding that she brings decades of legal, technical and business experience to the job.

“I look forward to continuing to work as a partner with Michelle in preserving and protecting our world-class intellectual property system.”


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