10.20.14

Is It Google’s Turn to Head the USPTO Corporation?

Posted in America, Google, IBM, Patents at 4:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Michelle Lee
Photo from Asian Pacific Fund

Summary: The industry-led USPTO continues to be coordinated by some of its biggest clients, despite issues associated with conflicting interests

IT IS no longer just rumour or suspicion that USPTO nominates Lee as new director. This is possibly going to result in an appointment, showing us yet again that corporate stewards are truly in charge of the government, not just in the United States. Industrial bodies are full of “revolving door”-type scenarios and altercations.

This probably is not as bad as nominating Philip Johnson (it didn't go down well) or David Kappos from IBM (both big and vocal proponents of software patents), but it’s still not a good thing, either. As we showed in past years, Google had hired many patent lawyers rather than fight software patents; Michelle Lee may therefore be part of the problem. Not much is known about her to Wikipedia. He career at Google was very short (going back to when Google hired patent lawyers) and her career before this is not even mentioned. We wrote about her when she was appointed and even in 2012 when sources said she might lead a Silicon Valley patent office (hence software patents). According to a USPTO press releases, “Lee worked as a computer scientist at Hewlett-Packard” (a proponent of software patents). But much of the private sector stuff is usually omitted. To quote this press release: “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.”

A site that acts as a CCIA front (as well as CCIA itself) and which wrote about her before has worked with Google and for Google, so no wonder it endorses Michelle Lee. CCIA is more concerned about patent trolls but not about abuse by its members (such as Microsoft), so it continues to treat only small abusive companies as the problem, e.g. for lack of evidence. Here is what the CCIA front said:

The White House announced yesterday that it’s nominating current Deputy Director Michelle Lee to be Director of the USPTO. By all accounts, she’s done a good job during a difficult time at the USPTO. This is definitely a smart move by the Administration.

How about appointing someone who is not supporting software patents and has not come from companies that accumulate software patents? Well, that might be too “revolutionary” for the USPTO and for the White House to do.

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