Former Googler to Head Up U.S. Patent Office

Michelle Lee, a former Google executive, is now the deputy director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and will run the office until a new director is named, according to reports.

Lee, a  former Google deputy general counsel and head of patents and patent strategy, is now head of the patent office's Silicon Valley branch, but begins her duties as deputy director Jan. 13, Reuters reported. The patent office's last director left in February, so Lee would be acting director of the federal agency. Lee has an engineering degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a law degree from Stanford Law School, a combination that may make her a great addition to reviewing technology patents.

Lee said her strategy for the position was to work on the office's backlog and "improve patent quality" likely to discourage the numerous "frivolous infringement lawsuits," according to Reuters. Google has found in many of these lawsuits, but Lee said that would not cause a conflict of interest.

"None of the policy positions of my former employers has guided my work," Lee said. "I certainly would be very welcoming of everybody's input."

The White House has expressed concern about patent trolls, or companies that buy up old and often general patents for technology and then sue tech companies for copyright infringement. Lee's experience in technology makes her a great hire by the patent office, and could possibly mean an end to vague technological patents and stop to patents being awarded for devices that have never been created.

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