U.S. Senate Confirms Michelle Lee as New PTO Head

At Founders Workbench, our entrepreneur clients have a business interest in patent reform, trolling, and other key patent-related developments, so we try to provide regular updates on related areas that may impact this area. That’s why we paid particular attention to the March 9 announcement that the U.S. Senate confirmed former Google Inc executive Michelle Lee to head the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO).

This is significant for startup companies. The office of PTO head has been vacant for more than two years, a concerning absence for an office tasked with determining which inventions warrant the grant of a patent.

The agency is also at the center of efforts by the U.S. Congress to reform the patent system and reduce patent litigation – including patent “trolls” that attempt to sustain their business existence by suing other companies that research and develop new technology.

The IP and startup community will no doubt look to Ms. Lee to improve the PTO’s performance in approving the sometimes-questionable software-related patents that clear the way for trolls to litigate. The PTO will also have a new opportunity to address the agency’s backlog in examining patents – which currently stands at nearly 600,000, according to the PTO.

This is good news for the startup community – good luck Michelle Lee!

For additional information on patents and protecting IP, visit our Patents and Trade Secrets page.

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