Tag Archives: Michelle Lee

Post-election “Patent Law & Policy” conference to be held in Washington

Many businesses are wondering what the patent terrain will look like after the U.S. elections in November.

Will further reforms will be forthcoming, or will there be a move toward stronger patents and greater certainty?

On November 15, the Tuesday following election day, at Washington DC’s Reagan Conference Center, those attending the 2016 Patent Law and Policy will be in a better position to find out.

Capitol Building in Washington DC USASpeakers assembled for this year’s IAM Patent Law and Policy conference will include senior government officials, members of the judiciary, corporate patent leaders, private practitioners and investors, who will discuss how court decisions and legislation are affecting US patent values and strategies.

The keynote speaker is US Patent and Trademark Office Director Michelle Lee. Other speakers include the chief judge of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, David Ruschke, ex-USPTO Director David Kappos, and former Federal Circuit Chief Judge Paul Michel.

Also participating as speakers or panelists will be senior representatives from companies closely involved in the ongoing patent reform debate, including: GoogleQualcomm, Johnson & Johnson, Bristol-Myers Squibb and IBM. Lead counsel in two of the pivotal Supreme Court patent cases of the last decade, KSR v Teleflex and Cuozzo v Lee. Also present will be as several high-profile patent investors.

IP CloseUp readers are able to receive $100 off the $895 fee if they use the discount code PLAP100 (offer valid until October 7 2016).

For the complete program and speakers, go here. For registration go here.

Image source: ipo.org; ipwatchdog.com



Patent ‘Quality Summit’ will be open to the public, March 25-26

The goal of the USPTO gathering is to promote discussion of ways to improve patent quality.

The first Patent Quality Summit will take place at United States Patent and Trademark Office headquarters in Alexandria, VA on March 25-26.

The two-day event’s opening session, “Perspectives on the Importance of Quality,” will feature corporate counsel, private practitioners, academics, economists, and jurists. Sessions will be open to the public, and those wishing to attend the Quality Summit but cannot be in Alexandria, they will be able to listen to and watch the presentations via a live stream. Participation in the Brainstorming sessions will be via WebEx during which virtual attendees will be able to participate interactively.

According to a press release the gathering is intended to “encourage robust discussions among USPTO leadership; patent prosecutors, litigators, applicants and licensees; and other members of the public interested in USPTO’s efforts to further improve patent quality through its Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative.

The conference draft agenda, three pillars to improve quality and six proposals can be found here, as well as information about virtual attendance. 

A focus of the Summit will be on improving patent operations and procedures to provide Quality SUMMIT Logo-02the best work product, to enhance the customer experience, and to improve existing quality metrics. USPTO has already set in motion several quality initiatives, including robust technical and legal training for patent examiners, as well as a Glossary Pilot, Quick Patent IDS Program, First Action Interview Pilot, and After Final Consideration Pilot.

Public Comments Solicited

Separate from the Quality Summit, the USPTO is seeking public comment on its Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative. Comments in this round will be accepted through May 6, 2015. For further information about the summit – including a draft agenda – and instructions for submitting comments, visit the Federal Register Notice.

“High quality patents permit certainty and clarity of rights, which in turn fuels innovation and reduces needless litigation,” said Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO, Michelle K. Lee.

Image source: uspto.gov

Appointment & Timing of “Deputy” USPTO Director Disturbs Many

By naming former Google IP Chief Michelle Lee Deputy Director the Obama administration has tipped the patent scales in favor of tech businesses with special interests.

In the absence of a named Director for over a year, naming Michelle Lee as Deputy effective January 13 will make her the Office’s highest ranking executive. Ordinarily this would not cause a stir, but Google is not a typical technology company. It is vehemently anti-patent, opposed to broad range patents and holders. The company has spent tens of millions of dollars lobbying the Congress and the White House for weaker innovation rights.

Google makes no bones about its position, especially as it relates to software patents, where its ubiquitous search franchise could be vulnerable.

Michael Loney reports in “Lee’s Appointment Causes a Stir” on the Managing Intellectual Property blog that the naming “has sparked concerns, as well as questions cpcnsl-MichelleLee-by-Dino-Vournasabout whether legally [Lee] can be appointed at all.”

Dennis Crouch of PatentlyO also weighed in, questioning the legality of the appointment in “Michele Lee, Acting as Director but not ‘Acting Director’.” 

“Lee’s appointment does have a genuine statutory problem. In particular, the statute requires that a Deputy Director be appointed by the Secretary of Commerce “upon nomination by the [USPTO] Director.” 35 U.S.C. § 3. Because there is no Director, there could be no such nomination.

“One reason why there is no Director is that position requires Senate approval (as required by the Constitution), and the President’s approach here appears to be an attempted end-run around that process.”

Joff Wild in the IAM blog observed in “Why now and why not at director?” that the timing of Lee’s appointment has profound implications:

“What is interesting about the deputy job, though, is that while the post-holder runs the office in the absence of a permanent Director, she does not have to be approved by legislators. Had Lee been appointed Director now or any time earlier she would have had to have gone in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which would then have had to have decided whether to forward her nomination to the full Senate for a final vote of approval.

“It’s inconceivable that this was not fully known to everyone involved in the process of putting Lee in place. Thus, it is hard to escape the conclusion that a principle driving force behind making her deputy Director and not Director is that the Obama administration wanted to avoid legislative scrutiny of her appointment. If that is the case, the question then is why?

“The obvious answer is Lee’s past links to Google, a company which has thrown a lot of lobbying money at and provided loud vocal support for significant reform to the US patent litigation system, and which also strongly supports restricting the patentability of certain types of invention – notably those relating to software. There is little doubt that members of the Senate would have focused on Lee’s views on such issues and her ties with Google had they been given the opportunity to do so.”

*     *     *

Last month at the IP Business Congress in Singapore, someone said to me, half in jest, I thought at the time, that “Google is to Obama Administration what Halliburton was to Bush’s.”

That’s no longer sounding very funny. Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt has been a close Obama adviser and fundraiser, and has helped to craft the White House’s IP policy.

While Google may be the definitive search engine its patent policies are designed to promote its own agenda, not the future of innovation, inventors or other businesses. It is the job of the President and Congress to refrain from partisan politics and keep a watchful eye on potential conflicts of interest, or their appearance.

The questionable appointment of Ms. Lee after more than a year without a USPTO Director, and without the Senate’s approval, may very well cement Mr. Obama’s legacy as the anti-patent/ anti-innovation President, and one too easily lead astray.

Image source: patentlyo.com; bizjournals.com

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