Michelle Lee, at right, signing a memorandum with the director general of IP Australia in September 2014.

US Mission General

Michelle Lee, formerly Google’s chief patent lawyer and currently acting director of the US Patent and Trademark Office, has been nominated by the Obama administration to be the next permanent USPTO director. Lee will be the first head of the patent office to have a background at an Internet company.
Lee’s nomination comes months after the administration floated the name of Philip Johnson, a lawyer at Johnson & Johnson who was an outspoken opponent of patent reform. The idea of nominating Johnson evaporated after a negative response from tech companies.
Choosing Lee has won praise all around, although the pro-reform forces are likely happier than the anti-reform forces given her background at Google. Lee was one of the first corporate lawyers to be vocal about the problem posed by “non-practicing entities,” also known as patent trolls.
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