The Uncertain Status of Michelle Lee Wounds the Patent System, Causes Political Anxiety

Michelle Lee

Michelle Lee

There continues to be no official word on who is currently in charge at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), which is rather extraordinary. In fact, I cannot remember a time when the USPTO ever failed to notify stakeholders who was in key executive positions, or who was assuming decision-making responsibilities in the wake of a transition occurring as the result of a resignation or retirement. In fact, the USPTO has always gone to great lengths to keep the public informed, promptly issuing statements explaining personnel changes or changes in responsibilities for all of the top executives. That is why this silence is so bizarre.

Notwithstanding, my best information continues to be that Michelle Lee is no longer at the USPTO. I have been told by sources that the USPTO is continuing to operate as per normal, as one would expect. I’ve also been told by sources that Commissioner for Patents Drew Hirshfeld is now Acting Director, as was expected during the beginning of the Trump Administration prior to confirmation of a permanent Director. I’ve also been told that Anthony Scardino, the CFO at the USPTO, has been promoted to Deputy Director, presumably also on an Acting basis although that is unclear.

The fact that no one can say for sure who is running the patent office is both problematic and surprising.

Why the sudden change?

Multiple news reports have surfaced suggesting that the Trump Administration has expressly forbade certain agencies from communicating with Member of Congress, the public, and the press (see here and here).

Although reports have most commonly focused on leaked memos sent to the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of the Interior and Department of Agriculture, the terse responses from USPTO communications staff declining comment even with respect to very simple factual matters would suggest that the Patent Office has been similarly told to cease communicating with the media.

Yesterday we spent the afternoon e-mailing and calling various Capitol Hill offices. We received no response, were directed to the White House for comment, or told that no information could be provided at this time, but at the end of these efforts we knew nothing more. I’ve also been told that inquiries by Congressman Bob Goodlatte’s staff about the status of Michelle Lee went unaddressed at least on Friday, January 20, 2017. Thus, our own efforts and reporting would seem to corroborate the aforementioned reports of agencies not communicating with Members of Congress.

What does it matter?

Who is in charge?

“The general concern about not knowing who is in charge, without any announcement, is that it creates uncertainty and a vacuum,” explained Todd Dickinson, a partner with Polsinelli PC and former Director of the USPTO under President Bill Clinton. “At some point, stakeholders and office staff need basically to know who to direct things to.”

Indeed, there are many things that the law leaves to the discretion of the Director of the USPTO. While some of those decisions have been delegated out to subordinate officials within the Office, some do still remain only with the Director. For example, if you are a patent owner who believes you are being harassed by repeated post grant challenges the Director alone has the authority to provide a protective remedy. Without knowing who is Director how can patent owners appropriately seek to obtain the assistance of the Director?

Another thing that will soon become problematic is with respect to lawsuits involving the USPTO. Who should be the named party? Generally, the Director or Acting Director of the agency is named as the party on behalf of the agency. While it seems a small point, properly identifying the party is no minor matter in federal court. Are patent applicants supposed to style their appeals to the Federal Circuit as Applicant v. John or Jane Doe, Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office?

Patent examiners are also reporting that they have been told nothing, which on one hand is difficult to believe. Of course, with 8,400+ patent examiners had the examining corps been told anything or sent a memo it would seem unlikely for it to remain secret for this long. Still, what examiners know or have been told is impossible to confirm with the USPTO declining to comment. It seems unusual (to say the least) that those working for the USPTO wouldn’t know the chain of command. How can any entity operate when that is the case?

Michelle Lee’s campaign to stay

Unfortunately, Michelle Lee seems to be caught up in a whirlwind that no longer has anything to do with her but has more to do with whether the campaign promise about draining the swamp was real or all rhetoric, and whether and how agencies will communicate with the public and press. Her rather public campaign to stay on as Director of the USPTO caused great confusion, was awkward, inconclusive and lead to the uncertainty. All we know for sure is she was telling everyone she would stay if asked and Congressman Darrell Issa said she was asked to stay and would return, the veracity of which is in serious doubt at this hour.

Until news broke one week ago today, the thought that Lee would actually be considered by the Trump Administration to stay on as Director of the USPTO, and that Lee would attempt to revoke her letter of resignation to allow her to do so, would have been deemed unbelievable; simply not credible. Saying that this actually seemed to have happened and caught nearly everyone by surprise, doesn’t really capture the magnitude of the shock felt by many well-connected players inside the beltway. Couple this thunderbolt with the absolute silence and refusal to comment that followed, and you have the perfect recipe for political anxiety.

The battle for the USPTO

Perhaps the biggest problem created by Michelle Lee trying to stay on as Director and the USPTO refusing to comment on anything is what it is doing to the industry. Up until Wednesday of last week pretty much everyone expected that there would be a new Director at some point during the first year, perhaps during the first six months, of the Trump Administration. Candidates were being discussed and supported by various groups, and much of the industry was hoping for a fresh start at the USPTO. Once Lee’s attempts to stay became so public and reports started surfacing that she was, in fact, President Trump’s pick, this sent everything into hyperdrive.

“Once it was known that Michelle wanted to stay, and that the idea was actually being entertained, not only were those who didn’t want her to stay and those that did both now free to lobby, which was complicated enough, but it accelerated the race by others who wanted to succeed her. It changed the landscape from a four month campaign for an open seat, to a one week campaign against an incumbent,” Dickinson explained. “A one week campaign against an incumbent is obviously more difficult; it required going to DEFCON 1 immediately.”

Going to DEFCON 1 has no doubt begun, and will only continue, as those who are opposed to Lee staying continue to publicly explain why she must go. As this story continues to drag out there will be more of this, and if she is nominated to serve as Director those that oppose her will be extremely well organized and will mount a significant challenge to her confirmation. The groundwork is already being laid. It could get very ugly I’m afraid, which would only divide the industry and seriously wound whoever is ultimately given the job.


While it seems that Michelle Lee is no longer at the USPTO, even this morning the Business Software Alliance sent out a press release congratulating Michelle Lee and the Trump Administration for deciding to reappoint her. Once again, a press release created a firestorm of e-mail activity. Was there an announcement that was missed? Does BSA know of an imminent announcement or have some inside source? When the BSA was contacted by someone who received the e-mail, he was notified that they just assumed she had been reappointed and that they had no new information.

In the absence of information people will fill the void. For the most part, that void is presently being filled by the statement of Congressman Darrell Issa who said on Thursday, January 19, 2017, that President Trump was holding over Director Lee to serve in his Administration.  However, almost one week later that does not seem to be the case, and those who really know aren’t saying. So until we have a concrete and tangible announcement from someone in the Trump Administration we continue to know nothing.

It does not seem unreasonable to expect the government to tell the public who is running the USPTO. If President Trump really wants to return government to the people, as he said in his Inaugural address, he should start by notifying the people who is running the government and its various agencies.

Additional Reading

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Join the Discussion

51 comments so far.

  • [Avatar for Mark Nowotarski]
    Mark Nowotarski
    February 10, 2017 11:00 am

    [email protected] Oops, I meant US6898742 (SN 10/300,389). M.K. Lee did sign the original transmittal for ‘742, but she may not have been the original author of the application since it was a divisional of US6636993 (SN 09/249,935). Alas, the file wrapper for ‘993 is not available in PAIR. The unavailability of earlier file wrappers in PAIR may account for why it’s hard to find M.K. Lee’s patent filings since she worked for Fenwick & West from 1996 to 2003. Plus Fenwick & West appears to only list their corporate name on issued patents, not the names of the attorneys working on them. This may account for why it’s hard to find the applications that M. K. Lee either authored or worked on.

  • [Avatar for Mark Nowotarski]
    Mark Nowotarski
    February 10, 2017 10:59 am

    [email protected] if you have patent applications in any one of work groups 3620, 3680 or 3690, I feel your pain. I have quite a few cases pending in those work groups as well. It’s very frustrating.

    However, even if a new director comes in and suddenly says “go ahead and allow business methods”, I’m not so sure that would solve the problem. Allowability should be based on objective standards, not management directives. Unfortunately, between KSR and Alice, the Supreme Court has deliberately done away with objective standards for patent examination in favor of “using judgement”. As a practical matter, that means that standards of allowability are left to the judgement of USPTO management. If a new director comes in and says “go ahead and allow business methods”, then the question is no longer “Does your patent meet the standards of patentability?” but “Who was director when your patent issued?” The only solution I see is for Congress to make it clear that patent examination has to be based on objective standards. The recent post on this blog by Senator Chris Coons shows that at least some members of Congress recognize that this is a serious problem.

  • [Avatar for Stephen Curry]
    Stephen Curry
    February 10, 2017 12:12 am

    I looked at PAIR. those patents were not written by michelle lee.

    up till now, the patents written by Lee remains a mystery to us and the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    Why did Michelle Kwok Lee make the patent applications that she wrote and signed/filed to be kept a Secret from (and away from the knowledge of) the Senate Judiciary Committee?

    Google’s former main outside patent prosecution counsel is invited to post here the patents written by Lee.
    Here’s the former google main outside patent prosecution counsel. He has some explaining to do.

  • [Avatar for Stephen Curry]
    Stephen Curry
    February 9, 2017 10:03 pm


    My concern is getting my stealth mode high-tech startup patent applications moving forward and staying out of mind of PTAB.

    TC3600 is the center examining almost 100% of the patent application filed by google’s former main outside patent prosecution counsel, and it has become a minefield for the rest of us startup entrepreneurs who have nothing to do with google whatsoever.

    the first honorable step is to terminate Michelle Lee’s employment with DoC/USPTO

  • [Avatar for Mark Nowotarski]
    Mark Nowotarski
    February 9, 2017 10:17 am


    Your citation to Michelle K. Lee’s 2014 submission to the Senate Judiciary committee was very helpful. It had her USPTO registration number, 40,695. I was able to use her number to look up her cases in PatentAdvisor. I found two, US6848742 and US6939014. The ‘742 patent was presumably authored by her since she signed the filing transmittal. For the ‘014 patent she handled the response to the first office action.

    Does this help address your concerns?

  • [Avatar for Stephen Curry]
    Stephen Curry
    February 9, 2017 05:44 am

    OK Gene, here is a start.
    The Senate Judiciary Committee can start their background inquiry on michelle k lee if they desire.

    this document is in michelle k lee wikipedia entry.

    why are the patents written and USPTO-filed/signed by michelle Lee omitted from the below document?
    these patent applications signed by Lee are important if Lee is renominated for USPTO Director (and was important in her prior nomination hearing as USPTO Director) and will be a subject of new questionings by the Senate Judiciary Committee if Lee is renominated as USPTO Director, and are “significant legal activities” per the below document.

    why is the name of google’s main outside patent prosecution counsel omitted from the below document ? (Gene knows that patent attorney who is a contributing author in IP watchdog)

    Perhaps the Senate Judiciary Committee can answer these un-answered questions?

  • [Avatar for Gene Quinn]
    Gene Quinn
    January 31, 2017 01:30 pm

    Stephen Curry @43-

    Saying Michelle Lee lied without any proof offered is not enough.

    So now you can do one of three things. First, you can either offer conclusive proof that Michelle Lee lied. Second, you can apologize and admit that you ahve no such proof and that you were merely stating an opinion based on no evidence. Three, you can be banned.

    Choice is yours, but the rules here have been clear from the beginning. Allegations of criminal behavior cannot be made without conclusive proof to back up such a factual assertion.

  • [Avatar for Stephen Curry]
    Stephen Curry
    January 31, 2017 11:27 am

    My comments to Mark is a starting point to show that Michelle Lee lied to the FBI. I invite anyone in the universe to show the patents written by michelle lee. It seems that the patents written by michelle lee is a mystery to the universe. Mark can ask Gene to ask Google’s former main outside patent counsel for lee’s registration number, as this former google main outside patent attorney is an articles contributor in IP watchdog.

    In fact, I invite google’s former main outside patent counsel to show us the patents written by michelle lee. you can find him here.

  • [Avatar for Stephen Curry]
    Stephen Curry
    January 31, 2017 11:05 am


    Gene, it is not hard for the FBI to do their job.
    Michelle Lee lied to the FBI.

  • [Avatar for Gene Quinn]
    Gene Quinn
    January 31, 2017 10:47 am

    Stephen Curry @40-

    What is your proof that Michelle Lee lied to the FBI? That is a very specific statement, which if made without any proof would be defamatory. So either you are going to need to provide conclusive proof (and not just supposition) for a factual allegation like that.


  • [Avatar for Mark Nowotarski]
    Mark Nowotarski
    January 31, 2017 09:30 am

    Curry @38: You are right. I stand corrected. It’s a different Michelle Lee.
    Curry @39: If you could find Michelle K. Lee’s reg. no.,I would be happy to see if she prosecuted any cases on PatentAdvisor. I’m afraid I don’t know Allen Lo or Kent Walker.
    [email protected]: We can also fix her Wikipedia article. They too reference the wrong M. Lee.

  • [Avatar for Stephen Curry]
    Stephen Curry
    January 31, 2017 12:32 am

    Gene is famous, being cited by Wiki.

    @37 michelle lee lied to the FBI during background checks when she was a candidate for SV USPTO Director and USPTO Director. Now Mark, this sets a bad example because it tells the world that anyone can get a Federal job even if a candidate tells lies to the FBI.

  • [Avatar for Stephen Curry]
    Stephen Curry
    January 30, 2017 09:03 pm

    I am not arguing with Mark on what is quality or what is not quality. All I said was google’s former main outside patent prosecution counsel said patent quality is in the eye of the beholder. no more said than that.

    also Mark, your Reg No. is 47,828
    michelle k. lee’s reg no. is 40,000 something (Allen Lo or Kent Walker will confirm for you).

  • [Avatar for Stephen Curry]
    Stephen Curry
    January 30, 2017 08:31 pm


    you found Michelle Lee formerly of the Fenwick firm now in Seattle, and not Michelle K. Lee who is a different person. Go ask her yourself

  • [Avatar for Mark Nowotarski]
    Mark Nowotarski
    January 30, 2017 08:14 pm

    Curry @34,
    I found 70 US patent cases , mostly in pharma, that Ms. Lee was an attorney of record on. Examples include:
    US 8,444,999 “Mutated Salmonella Typhi Strain And Use Thereof In A Vaccine”
    US 8,546,554 “Lipid Formulated Compositions and Methods for Inhibiting Expression of Serum Amyloid A Gene”
    US 9,347,935 “Mammalian Sweet and Amino Acid Heterodimeric Taste Receptors Comprising T1R3 and T1R1”

    In the first two, Ms. Lee was one of the attorneys that responded to one of the rejections. In the last case it looks like Ms. Lee authored the application herself since she was the attorney that signed the ADS when the case was filed.

    I’m not quite sure what point you are making regarding Director Lee’s qualifications to lead a quality improvement program. “Quality” is a technical field in and of itself, quite independent of the particulars of the patent process. I don’t agree that “Quality” is not in the eye of the beholder. It is a measurable quantity that can be compared to an objective standard. See the Wikipedia article on “Six Sigma” for examples.

    I certainly would not expect a USPTO director to be an expert in the technical field of quality or any other technical field for that matter. The director’s responsibility is to lead, not be an expert. I would expect the director to hire experts as needed to implement his/her policies.

  • [Avatar for Stephen Curry]
    Stephen Curry
    January 30, 2017 03:18 pm

    @36 Hey Gary,

    Gene’s buddy Lee Cheng also signed the letter in support of MLee as you will notice. Cheng has quit the legal practice bizzness and is living in Nashville.

    For the universe:
    I warned everyone in year 2014 in IP watchdog that michelle lee will go on a war against startups and patent holders in her role as PTO Director. Don’t give her another chance ever again.

  • [Avatar for Gary]
    January 30, 2017 02:39 pm

    @32 — interesting, nowhere in that letter does the term “inventor” (or even “invent”) appear. They couldn’t get a single professional inventor (e.g. somebody who invents as their primary job) to sign the letter?

  • [Avatar for Gary]
    January 30, 2017 02:33 pm

    I submitted a FOIA request three days ago. This morning I got an email promising a formal response by February 24. The only problem is that the FOIA request that they promised to respond to was not the one I submitted. There was a different first name and different spelling of the last name, yet somehow they got confused. I guess when nobody knows who the boss is, this kind of gross error is going to happen. I wonder when this kind of “we have no leadership” error is going to trickle down to patent quality.

  • [Avatar for Stephen Curry]
    Stephen Curry
    January 30, 2017 11:32 am

    @33 Mark


    Mark, can you please post in this website the patents written by Michelle Lee. The patents seem to be a Mystery.

    The reason why the patents are important is Lee claims to be an expert in patent quality and so she started championing the PTAB starting in year 2004 and did all kinds of stuff at the USPTO in the name of promoting patent quality. I read comments by her main google outside patent prosecution counsel who is based in downtown san francisco and this dude says patent quality is in the eye of the beholder (well, that statement is stolen from the famed Dan Johnson of Morgan Lewis).

  • [Avatar for Mark Nowotarski]
    Mark Nowotarski
    January 30, 2017 11:14 am

    Stephen @29 and @31. Emphasizing Director Lee’s middle name, and hence her ethnicity, is not necessary.

  • [Avatar for Stephen Curry]
    Stephen Curry
    January 29, 2017 09:53 pm

    One of my outside counsels informed me of this letter. This letter has been circulating the past few days in Silicon Valley.

    To rebuild the patent system, all signers of this letter are automatically disqualified as candidates for future USPTO Directors positions (USPTO Director, USPTO Deputy Director, USPTO Regional Directors, Commissioner of Patents, etc.). I also noticed that Allen Lo and David Drummond, Gordy Davidson, and Google’s former main outside patent prosecution counsel (some dude in the downtown San Francisco City who led USPTO Director Emeritus michelle lee astray – we know who he is) did not sign this letter.

  • [Avatar for Night Writer]
    Night Writer
    January 29, 2017 08:59 pm

    @29: I don’t know the answer to those questions.

    Most of what I figure out is based on just looking at what people do.

  • [Avatar for Stephen Curry]
    Stephen Curry
    January 28, 2017 10:40 pm

    @28 why did michelle Kwok lee go missing or why is Gene saying Lee’s status is unknown?

    what does darrell issa have to say after ordering Prez Donald Trump that lee should be head of the USPTO?

    Is Gordy Davidson full of embarrassment now?

    is Mike Honda (congressman of silicon valley) getting blamed for championing michelle lee to be PTO Director of SV and USPTO main office?

    I told everyone in IP watchdog in year 2014 that Lee was going to become the most hated Registered Patent Attorney of all time; it came true.

  • [Avatar for Night Writer]
    Night Writer
    January 28, 2017 09:28 pm

    @27 Lee was selected by Google to burn the system down. She cannot even read a file wrapper.

  • [Avatar for Brian]
    January 27, 2017 02:39 pm

    Do people know the INPI in Brazil went paperless? They send a digital file upon grant. Do people know how antiquated and klugie the database systems are at the USPTO? Do people know how well the EPO systems work? Michelle Lee failed at advancing the USPTO. Get rid of the paper! Allow color drawings. Update the database systems (do you think Google would know how). Launch a public API. At one Roundtable, the USPTO was referred to as the “non-patent office”. Something needs to change.

  • [Avatar for Gary]
    January 27, 2017 01:21 pm

    Remember that the primary revenue (at least internationally) of the Trump organization derives from the IP rights in the name Trump and the goodwill (ha) that is associated with the name. So while @17’s point makes great sense, I doubt Trump is willing to put anybody he cannot 100% trust in charge of the agency that can void the most valuable asset he owns — his trademark. And I think there is a pretty strong First Amendment case that the use of the name of a President cannot be nearly as restricted as is normal for a registered mark.

  • [Avatar for Eric Berend]
    Eric Berend
    January 26, 2017 06:07 pm

    If various and several of the organs of Federal government have been left in limbo at this point of Administrative transition, then on what basis other than random, should Commerce and the USPTO be spared from the ongoing *appearance* of confusion? As Gene supposed above, for the nonce, it is more likely that the name of Acting Commissioner Hirshfeld’s will appear on issued patents granted in the future. I also find some of the speculation of ‘Valuationguy’, at #17, above, to possibly bear relevance.

  • [Avatar for EG]
    January 26, 2017 04:43 pm

    Hey Gene,

    This situation with Lee’s status is nothing but a SNAFU and FUBAR. What a PR fiasco all around from the USPTO.

  • [Avatar for Gary]
    January 26, 2017 03:22 pm

    I just submitted a FOIA request. I’ll report back in 2018 when they finally respond.

  • [Avatar for Gene Quinn]
    Gene Quinn
    January 26, 2017 01:46 pm


    I haven’t seriously considered a FOIA for this purpose. Getting information from a FOIA request can take longer than you expect and I had expected this episode to be resolved by the time a FOIA would ever be answered. Furthermore, as journalists learned during the Obama administration filing a FOIA does not at all guarantee that the government will give you what you ask for even if you clearly are entitled to the information.

    It seems like the USPTO and Trump Administration have dug in. Word I’m hearing is that people at the USPTO don’t see what the big deal is because a Director wouldn’t be nominated for months anyway, thus there is absolutely no need for them to say who is Acting Director in the interim apparently.

    Eventually we will know. The Director must have their signature affixed to issued patents. The patents issued this week were printed weeks ago no doubt, so we won’t likely learn anything. In the coming weeks/months if Lee’s name continues to be on issued patents then we will have our answer. My guess is that over the next few weeks we will see Drew Hirshfeld’s name and signature begin to appear on issued patents.


  • [Avatar for Sunshine]
    January 26, 2017 01:27 pm

    Gene, have you considered submitting a FOIA request? Someone should ask: (1) Is Michelle still the director; (2) if not, who is the director, and on what date did this occur?

    Would be interesting to see how they respond.

  • [Avatar for One Who Also Wonders]
    One Who Also Wonders
    January 26, 2017 12:19 pm

    Is it silly to ask some folks who work at the PTO offices to anonymously let everyone know whether or not Ms. Lee is still coming in to her office? Is her car in the parking lot? Maybe a quick note from HR on her status?

    The American people are entitled to know who’s running this critically important ship.

  • [Avatar for Gene Quinn]
    Gene Quinn
    January 26, 2017 11:12 am

    defcon defender @11-

    Thank you. Thank you also to those who messaged me directly on this. Obviously, Todd and I were referring to DEFCON 1. I’ve made the change and cleared the cache at 11:10am EST on 1/16/2017. Depending upon your browser you may or may not see the change immediately, but should propagate to all desktop browsers within the next 60 minutes. Smartphones can take longer.


  • [Avatar for Gene Quinn]
    Gene Quinn
    January 26, 2017 10:30 am

    Chicken Little-

    You seem to state that Lee is gone as if it is a matter of well known fact. Can you please provide your source for that information?

    As far as there being a crisis, obviously you are comfortable with government lacking all sense of transparency. Of course, in a democracy that is unacceptable.


  • [Avatar for Valuationguy]
    January 26, 2017 09:31 am

    While I agree with most (if not all) here that Lee should go….the reality is that the PTO Director position is a nice bargaining chip in the current cutthroat round of musical chairs in DC. Trump’s cabinet members have not yet been confirmed….even if several have survived their Senate committee votes to qualify for a Senate floor vote. Trump is a brilliant NEGOTIATOR….he is unlikely to waste a potential bargaining chip by spending it BEFORE getting his HIGHER priority positions approved.

    My guess is he is perfectly willing to spend time entertaining offers related to the PTO position….playing the various factions against each other in order to push his Cabinet into place. By keeping them dangling….he prevents one or the other factions from opposing his initiative in hopes of being ultimately rewarded with the PTO position.

    I tend to believe Trump is unconcerned with the minutia of why a bureaucracy might not be able to function properly without a politically appointed leader. In business…business continues with or without a designated leader… fact, its a good way to identify who has the chops to lead (as a leadership vaccuum is always filled….for good or bad…by someone stepping up).

  • [Avatar for Mark Nowotarski]
    Mark Nowotarski
    January 26, 2017 08:11 am

    patentleather @9 What art unit (number please) have you seen allowances go down and then come back up again after Alice?

  • [Avatar for Chicken Little]
    Chicken Little
    January 26, 2017 07:10 am


    People, please chill out. Lee is gone. Ross was just confirmed 2 days ago. Clearly the person Trump / Ross want in this role is to be announced soon. The USPTO will resume normal functionality and will be led by someone not from Google. All is well in the world.

    Chill out, there is no crisis here.

  • [Avatar for Frank Lukasik]
    Frank Lukasik
    January 26, 2017 06:07 am

    Her efforts to amend the Patent Laws as Patent Counsel at GOOGLE, were brought to the attention of The Supreme Court in
    (Lucree versus U.S).

  • [Avatar for The IPBanker]
    The IPBanker
    January 26, 2017 05:20 am

    I just want to say I am enjoying reading these headlines; however, I think some patience would do everyone some good. If she is there then it’s important that we see what direction she will take under the new administration. Also, what makes you so certain a new director will be better?

  • [Avatar for Benny]
    January 26, 2017 05:20 am

    “Multiple news reports have surfaced suggesting that the Trump Administration has expressly forbade certain agencies from communicating with Member of Congress, the public, and the press ”
    Should I be worried?

  • [Avatar for defcon defender]
    defcon defender
    January 25, 2017 11:56 pm

    should be Defcon 1 (“Maximum readiness”). Defcon 5 is the “lowest state of readiness” which i think describes how the community was prepared to the idea that Lee would stay.

  • [Avatar for patent leather]
    patent leather
    January 25, 2017 11:33 pm

    @Suzannah “First, I’d just like to know regarding the “back in the 101 fiasco days”… Did I miss something? Is 101 all better now?”

    LOL, no 101 isn’t all better but my experience is that I am getting software cases allowed now. Maybe my experience is different than others, but a few months after Alice came out the USPTO started rejecting all software and in some cases just rejected under 101 without looking at 102/103 (as Europe does). An examiner even told me this is how he was instructed to examine now (even though this is violative of the MPEP) as they feel why examine under 102/103 when cases will be shot down under 101.The 101 rejections I was getting back then were all the same boilerplate cut/pasted (likely from a USPTO internal memo) with little coherent analysis. It seemed like there was just a directive to reject all software under 101 with little oversight.

    I’m curious to hear others’ experience, but now it seems the USPTO is a little better (although still needs improvement). Examiners are allowing (some) software cases and finding ways to help the Applicants overcome 101. I understand the USPTO can’t ignore cases like Alice and (the other Federal Circuit cases) and so the landscape still stinks compared to before. But I find that (at least in some art units) the examiners are obeying the law and allowing cases where DDR, Bascom, Enfish, McRo and others apply. And the 101 rejections I get now do seem more coherently written and actually refer to the claim language (instead of a clear cut/paste).

    I don’t expect Congress to change 101, so this is the new reality (and it’s not all bettter!) But a Director who is willing to encourage examiners (and provide the proper training) to allow cases under 101 where the Fed Circuit would allow it is very important.

  • [Avatar for R]
    January 25, 2017 10:26 pm

    Does anyone know who was listed as the Director on the ribbon copies of patents issued on January 24?

  • [Avatar for Gene Quinn]
    Gene Quinn
    January 25, 2017 10:08 pm

    Patent Investor-

    I have also heard that the tech breakfast was a fundraiser. As far as I know that Issa comment continues to be the only indication by any government official that Lee would be held over or re-nominated for the position of Director.


  • [Avatar for peter]
    January 25, 2017 09:49 pm

    To add to the rumor mill, I understand from a good source – who just spoke with an Examiner- that Lee had a goodbye meet and greet at the end of last week. No PTO notifications since then.

  • [Avatar for Patent Investor]
    Patent Investor
    January 25, 2017 08:28 pm

    I read on another blog site that Issa was at a fundraising breakfast with the tech industry and the writer’s speculation was that such great “alt-news” would start the funds faucet flowing. Maybe they can put a stop payment on those checks when Michelle Lee fails to rematerialize!

  • [Avatar for Suzannah]
    January 25, 2017 08:07 pm

    First, I’d just like to know regarding the “back in the 101 fiasco days”… Did I miss something? Is 101 all better now? Anyway perhaps this is what Trump means by returning the Government to we the people… No appointee is running any given agency because it’s supposed to run itself by way of we the people.think about the budget savings…

  • [Avatar for F]
    January 25, 2017 07:52 pm

    As a patent examiner I can confirm they have told us NOTHING. It came up during a group meeting today and our supervisor didn’t know either. He assumed she was still director because she never sent a good-bye memo like most of the others who left but it’s insane that they won’t even tell us who’s running our organization.

  • [Avatar for Deepthroat]
    January 25, 2017 06:26 pm

    On 1/12, a meet and great was established at the PTO to say “farewell” to director Lee and thank her for her service. So, as of 1/12 she was leaving. Who knows what’s going on now.

  • [Avatar for IPdude]
    January 25, 2017 05:35 pm


    Thank you for the continued updates. I’m glad we at least have some hope to get a pro-patent director. I’ll take silence over the spreading of rumors by political blowhards like Issa. If it turns out Lee is not staying or being re-nominated, Issa should pay a price for acting like a high school gossip. Regardless, Issa should have kept his mouth shut. He may have been trying to put pressure on the new administration with his potentially unfounded announcement. Let’s hope it comes back to bite him.

  • [Avatar for patent leather]
    patent leather
    January 25, 2017 05:33 pm

    Drew Hirshfeld is a good man and I would think he would make a good choice as the permanent Director. But I know this is very unlikely. Back in the 101 fiasco days, I received many crazy 101’s (which have all since been allowed) and I called Hirshfeld’s office for some guidance. Hirshfeld called me back himself to discuss the situation and help me with my cases.